Although the amplified in breast cancer 1 (AIB1) coactivator is amplified and overexpressed in breast cancers, its role in mammary carcinogenesis remains unknown. We demonstrate that during mammary development and tumorigenesis, the elevation of AIB1 level and its nuclear localization correlate with normal and transformed mammary epithelial proliferation, whereas its lower expression and cytoplasmic localization correlate with mammary epithelial quiescence and differentiation. In this study, the role of AIB1 in breast tumor initiation, progression, and metastasis was studied by generating AIB1(+/+), AIB1(+/-), and AIB1(-/-) mice harboring the mouse mammary tumor virus/v-Ha-ras (ras) transgene that induces breast tumors. Breast tumor incidence was reduced dramatically in the intact AIB1(-/-)-ras virgin mice and inhibited completely in the ovariectomized AIB1(-/-)-ras mice. Breast tumor latency was delayed significantly in AIB1(-/-)-ras virgin mice with natural estrous cycles, multiparous mice with cyclically elevated reproductive hormones, and virgin mice bearing pituitary isografts with persistently elevated hormones. Although AIB1 deficiency significantly suppressed mammary tumorigenesis under all of the concentrations of ovarian hormones, it did not affect the promotional role of ovarian hormones on mammary tumorigenesis, suggesting that AIB1 and ovarian hormones contribute to mammary carcinogenesis through different pathways. AIB1 deficiency did not alter the expression of estrogen and progesterone-responsive genes in the mammary gland, but it caused partial resistance to the insulin-like growth factor I because of a significant reduction in the insulin receptor substrates. The impaired insulin-like growth factor I pathway in AIB1(-/-)-ras mammary epithelium and tumor cells was responsible in part for the suppression of mammary tumorigenesis and metastasis caused by inhibition of cell proliferation and migration. These results suggest that a more effective strategy to control breast cancer is to target AIB1-mediated and ovarian hormone-initiated pathways.