Whether invasive lobular carcinoma of the breast per se constitutes a prognostically favorable type has been debated. The present series comprises 301 consecutive "classic" lobular breast carcinomas seen at one institution between 1994 and 2001, compared to an equal number of invasive ductal carcinomas at the same institution during the same period, matched for year of surgery, age, menopausal status, primary tumor size, nodal involvement, hormone receptor status and where possible histological grade. Despite matching, the lobular carcinomas were more frequently multifocal, had more involved nodes, lower grade and lower proliferative fraction. There was no significant difference in disease-free or overall survival, locoregional relapse or time to distant metastasis between the lobular and ductal groups overall or within any examined subset, though the lobular group showed a trend to earlier appearance of contralateral breast cancer. Classical lobular histology is not an independent factor in the prognosis of early breast cancer.