Ganoderma lucidum, an oriental medical mushroom, has been used in Asia for the prevention and treatment of a variety of diseases, including cancer. We have previously demonstrated that G. lucidum inhibits growth and induces cell cycle arrest at G0/G1 phase through the inhibition of Akt/NF-kappaB signaling in estrogen-independent human breast cancer cells. However, the molecular mechanism(s) responsible for the inhibitory effects of G. lucidum on the proliferation of estrogen-dependent (MCF-7) and estrogen-independent (MDA-MB-231) breast cancer cells remain to be elucidated. Here, we show that G. lucidum inhibited the proliferation of breast cancer MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells by the modulation of the estrogen receptor (ER) and NF-kappaB signaling. Thus, G. lucidum down-regulated the expression of ERalpha in MCF-7 cells but did not effect the expression of ERbeta in MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells. In addition, G. lucidum inhibited estrogen-dependent as well as constitutive transactivation activity of ER through estrogen response element (ERE) in a reporter gene assay. G. lucidum decreased TNF-alpha-induced (MCF-7) as well as constitutive (MDA-MB-231) activity of NF-kappaB. The inhibition of ER and NF-kappaB pathways resulted in the down-regulation of expression of c-myc, finally suppressing proliferation of estrogen-dependent as well as estrogen-independent cancer cells. Collectively, these results suggest that G. lucidum inhibits proliferation of human breast cancer cells and contain biologically active compounds with specificity against estrogen receptor and NF-kappaB signaling, and implicate G. lucidum as a suitable herb for chemoprevention and chemotherapy of breast cancer.