Mouse mammary gland involution resembles a wound healing response with suppressed inflammation. Wound healing and inflammation are also associated with tumour development, and a 'wound-healing' gene expression signature can predict metastasis formation and survival. Recent studies have shown that an involuting mammary gland stroma can promote metastasis. It could therefore be hypothesised that gene expression signatures from an involuting mouse mammary gland may provide new insights into the physiological pathways that promote breast cancer progression. Indeed, using the HOPACH clustering method, the human orthologues of genes that were differentially regulated at day 3 of mammary gland involution and showed prolonged expression throughout the first 4 days of involution distinguished breast cancers in the NKI 295 breast cancer dataset with low and high metastatic activity. Most strikingly, genes associated with copper ion homeostasis and with HIF-1 promoter binding sites were the most over-represented, linking this signature to hypoxia. Further, six out of the ten mRNAs with strongest up-regulation in cancers with poor survival code for secreted factors, identifying potential candidates that may be involved in stromal/matrix-enhanced metastasis formation/breast cancer development. This method therefore identified biological processes that occur during mammary gland involution, which may be critical in promoting breast cancer metastasis that could form a basis for future investigation, and supports a role for copper in breast cancer development.