A cohort study is under way in New York City to evaluate how levels of endogenous reproductive hormones influence the risk of breast cancer. The study, in which approximately 15,000 women are being recruited, utilizes a prospective design in which volunteers are asked to provide repeated specimens of serum during the period 1985-1992. A case-control study nested within the cohort is planned by which specimens from all cases arising in the population and from a randomly selected sample of time-matched controls will be analyzed and compared. As of December 31, 1989, 13,609 volunteers had donated blood specimens, about 50% of whom had already donated more than once. Of the 187 incident breast cancer cases who are expected to arise in the cohort before the end of 1992, 77 have been detected thus far.