In normal breast tissue and in noninvasive breast carcinomas, various keratin-14 antibodies were reactive predominantly with the basal/myoepithelial cell layer, although mainly in terminal and larger ducts luminal cells sometimes also were stained. A similar reaction pattern was found with an antibody directed against keratin 17, although this antibody was more often found negative than keratin 14 in the pre-existing myoepithelial cells in intraductal carcinomas. Furthermore antibodies reactive with hyperproliferation-related keratins 6 and 16 were used. One of these (LL025) was completely negative in normal breast tissue and noninvasive breast carcinomas. However 10% of the invasive carcinomas were diffusely or focally positive with this latter antibody, while in 18 of 115 cases of invasive breast carcinomas studied, a basal cell phenotype was detected. A relatively high concordance was found between the carcinomas immunostaining with the basal cell and the hyperproliferation-related keratins, but not between these markers and the proliferation marker Ki-67. This supports the conclusion that basal cells in breast cancer may show extensive proliferation, and that absence of Ki-67 staining does not mean that (tumor) cells are not proliferating.