Ecto-5'-nucleotidase (CD73) is a membrane-bound enzyme, which catalyzes the conversion of adenosine monophosphate to adenosine. CD73 has been postulated to play an important role in carcinogenesis, as adenosine promotes tumor progression and CD73-expressing cancer cell lines are more aggressive. However, other studies have shown that activated adenosine receptors may also inhibit cell proliferation. This study investigated the clinical significance of CD73 expression in breast cancer. The study group included 136 consecutive stage I-III breast cancer patients treated between 2001 and 2008 at 2 institutions. CD73 expression was examined by immunohistochemistry (IHC) on tissue microarrays, using antihuman mouse monoclonal antibody. Survival curves were generated by the Kaplan-Meier method and compared using the log-rank test. CD73 staining was expressed as the score calculated by multiplying the staining intensity (0=negative, 1=weak, 2=intermediate, 3=strong) and percentage of positive cells (0% to 100%). The median score among all samples was 100. Positive CD73 staining (defined as score equal or higher than 100) occurred in 74% of the cases. No correlation was found between CD73 expression and grading, tumor size, lymph node status, histologic type, estrogen receptor, or progesterone receptor status. Positive CD73 expression strongly correlated with longer disease-free survival (hazard ratio=0.26; 95% confidence interval, 0.1-0.66; P=0.0044) and overall survival (hazard ratio =0.24; 95% confidence interval, 0.07-0.85; P=0.027). Multivariate analysis for disease-free survival revealed correlation with tumor size and CD73 status. Elevated CD73 expression in breast cancer can predict a good prognosis. However, the actual role of CD73 in cancerogenesis remains unclear and requires further analysis.