Adult female mammary development starts at puberty and is controlled by tightly regulated cross-talk between a group of hormones and growth factors. Although estrogen is the initial driving force and is joined by luteal phase progesterone, both of these hormones require GH-induced IGF-I in the mammary gland in order to act. The same group of hormones, when experimentally perturbed, can lead to development of hyperplastic lesions and increase the chances, or be precursors, of mammary carcinoma. For example, systemic administration of GH or IGF-I causes mammary hyperplasia, and overproduction of IGF-I in transgenic animals can cause the development of usual or atypical hyperplasias and sometimes carcinoma. Although studies have clearly demonstrated the transforming potential of both GH and IGF-I receptor in cell culture and in animals, debate remains as to whether their main role is actually instructive or permissive in progression to cancer in vivo. Genetic imprinting has been shown to occur in precursor lesions as early as atypical hyperplasia in women. Thus, the concept of progression from normal development to cancer through precursor lesions sensitive to hormones and growth factors discussed above is gaining support in humans as well as in animal models. Indeed, elevation of estrogen receptor, GH, IGF-I, and IGF-I receptor during progression suggests a role for these pathways in this process. New agents targeting the GH/IGF-I axis may provide a novel means to block formation and progression of precursor lesions to overt carcinoma. A novel somatostatin analog has recently been shown to prevent mammary development in rats via targeted IGF-I action inhibition at the mammary gland. Similarly, pegvisomant, a GH antagonist, and other IGF-I antagonists such as IGF binding proteins 1 and 5 also block mammary gland development. It is, therefore, possible that inhibition of IGF-I action, or perhaps GH, in the mammary gland may eventually play a role in breast cancer chemoprevention by preventing actions of both estrogen and progesterone, especially in women at extremely high risk for developing breast cancer such as BRCA gene 1 or 2 mutations.