A single institution, retrospective study of 28 patients with inflammatory carcinoma of the breast treated from 1984 to 1990 was performed. Patients received two to four cycles of cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin and 5-fluorouracil (CDF) and were then evaluated for mastectomy. Mastectomy was accomplished in 26 patients after CDF. In 21 patients, the breast was resectable after the initial doses of chemotherapy and modified radical mastectomy was done. Radiation therapy was given to 16 of the 21 patients after six to nine cycles of postoperative chemotherapy. The remaining five of 26 patients had a marginal response to CDF and underwent preoperative radiation therapy. Local recurrence occurred in four of five patients receiving preoperative radiation, in three of 16 receiving postoperative radiation and in one of five receiving mastectomy without radiation therapy. The overall observed five year survival rate was 18 percent, with a median of 34 months. Neither dermal lymphatic invasion nor estrogen receptor status were statistically significant variables when analyzing patients for local recurrence or survival. Despite poor long term survival results, the combination of induction CDF, mastectomy and postoperative radiation achieved local control in 81 percent of patients.