Studies of cytologic and biochemical constituents of nipple aspirates of breast fluid have contributed to understanding the natural history of benign and malignant breast disease. We conducted multivariate analyses using 1428 women from a recent case-control study of breast disease to determine which factors were independently associated with the ability to obtain breast fluid from nonlactating women. We then compared results from these analyses to the results from five previous studies that also used the aspiration technique of Sartorius. Four factors were consistently associated across studies with increased ability to obtain breast fluid: 1) age up to 35 to 50 years; 2) earlier age at menarche; 3) non-Asian compared to Asian ethnicity; and 4) history of lactation. Exogenous estrogen use, endogenous estrogen concentrations, phase of menstrual cycle, family history of breast cancer, type of menopause, and less than full-term pregnancy consistently did not influence ability to obtain fluid. New findings from this study shed light on some apparently contradictory findings from the previous studies. In particular, this study showed that the effects of age on ability to obtain fluid appeared to be independent of the effects of menopause. Furthermore, discrepancies in previous findings on the effects of parity on ability to obtain fluid may be explained by our finding that the increased ability to obtain fluid from parous compared to nulliparous women applied only to parous women who had breastfed.