Previous articles have reported that the c-myb proto-oncogene was activated in various types of tumours of the hematopoietic system suggesting that this gene plays a role in the development of these malignancies. However no studies of the c-myb gene have as yet been performed in solid primary tumours. In the present study we have analysed in breast cancer the c-myb gene with the aim to determine its involvement in tumour progression. Expression of the c-myb oncogene was analysed from 169 carcinoma specimens obtained from untreated patients with non-inflammatory breast cancer (NBC) (112 patients) and inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) (57 patients). A 3.5 kb c-myb transcript band was detected in 108 (64%) tumours. c-myb expression was found to be associated with good prognostic factors (lowest histopathologic grade (P = 0.01), oestrogen and progesterone receptor status (P less than 10(-4)) and pS2 gene expression (P less than 10(-4)) and negatively correlated with breast cancers of poorer prognosis, namely IBC (P = 0.03) and NBC with multiple involved nodes (P = 0.15). Other genes (c-myc, c-erbB2, c-fos and epidermal growth factor receptor) were also studied. The c-myb gene expression was found to be inversely correlated (P less than 0.03) with only c-erbB2 overexpression in NBC. When data were analysed with a logistic regression model using a stepwise procedure, c-myb expression was found to be associated only with the oestrogen receptor status (P less than 10(-4)). In conclusion, our data indicate that analysis of c-myb expression in breast cancer could allow the characterization of a new class of oestrogen-dependent tumours.