To investigate the effect of altered oestrogen receptor (ER)alpha and ERbeta expression on oestrogen and anti-oestrogen action in breast cancer, we have stably expressed an inducible ERbeta1 in MCF7 breast cancer cells. Stably expressing clones were isolated and over-expression of ERbeta1 correlated with increased levels of specific radiolabelled oestradiol (E2) binding. Increased ERbeta1 did not affect endogenous levels of ERalpha but increased progesterone receptor (PR) levels. Over-expression of ERbeta1 reduced growth responses to E2 in contrast to little if any effect of over-expression of ERalpha. In oestrogen-replete conditions, over-expression of ERbeta1 but not ERalpha reduced proliferation. Over-expression of ERbeta1 did not result in anti-oestrogen resistance but was associated with increased sensitivity to 4-hydroxytamoxifen. Our results suggested that over-expression of ERbeta1 in the presence of an endogenously expressed ERalpha was associated with tamoxifen sensitivity but may negatively modulate ERalpha-mediated growth. However, not all ERalpha activities were inhibited since endogenous PR expression was increased by both ERalpha and ERbeta1 over-expression. These data paralleled those seen in some in vivo studies showing a relationship between PR and ERbeta expression as well as ERbeta expression and tamoxifen sensitivity of ER-positive breast cancer patients. These models are relevant and will be useful for dissecting the role of ERbeta1 expression in ER-positive breast cancer.