Infiltrating immune cells in 30 primary human epithelial breast tumours were studied using specific anti-CD3 (T cells), anti-CD68 (macrophages), anti-CD57 (NK cells), and an anti-pan-B cell antibody (L26). The majority of tumour infiltrating inflammatory cells are T cells (40-50%) and monocytes/macrophages (15-35%). The macrophage specific chemo-attractant and growth factor CSF-1 is detected by immunohistochemical techniques (IHC) at the level of invasive breast cancer cells in 46/50 tumours but not at the level of in-situ (pre-invasive) cancer. A mosaic staining pattern was usually observed, with a very high expression in areas of obvious stromal invasion (90% cells positive) and absent or trace staining in intraductal carcinoma. Macrophages and plasma cells are equally intensely positive. In-situ hybridisation experiments confirm the production of CSF-1 (mRNA) by tumour cells and show the same pattern of expression. Expression of the CSF-1 receptor protein (fms) was also observed by IHC in 41/48 invasive tumours, albeit at weaker intensities than in tumour infiltrating monocytes/macrophages. A concomitant expression of both CSF-1 and fms in in-situ carcinoma was never seen (n = 14). It is therefore proposed that the associated expression of CSF-1 and its receptor may be linked to the invasive potential of breast cancer, the monocytic infiltrate being an indication of the quantitative importance of CSF-1 production by the tumour.