Pleomorphic lobular carcinoma is regarded as a biologically aggressive variant of invasive lobular carcinoma of the breast. However, there is no consensus on the definition and whether this subtype adds useful information to histological grade. Two-hundred and two grade 2 or grade 3 invasive lobular carcinomas were studied. Tumours were categorised according to the components of histological grade: tubules, pleomorphism and mitoses. Pleomorphic lobular carcinoma was defined as a carcinoma with a lobular growth pattern and marked nuclear pleomorphism (pleomorphism 3). Breast cancer-specific survival was used in analysis of prognosis. Grade 3 pleomorphic lobular carcinomas (tubules 3, pleomorphism 3, mitoses 2 and tubules 3, pleomorphism 3, mitoses 3) had a worse prognosis than grade 2 (tubules 3, pleomorphism 2, mitoses 1) carcinomas. Grade 2 lobular carcinomas with marked nuclear pleomorphism (tubules 3, pleomorphism 3, mitoses 1) had a similar prognosis to grade 2 carcinomas with moderate pleomorphism (tubules 3, pleomorphism 2, mitoses 1). Survival was associated with mitotic score, but not with nuclear pleomorphism on both univariate and multivariate analysis. A non-classical growth pattern was seen more frequently in all subgroups with marked nuclear pleomorphism and was associated with worse survival. Histological grade and nodal status were independent of prognostic factors. This study shows that histological grade (in particular the mitotic component) in invasive lobular carcinomas is of prognostic importance, but pleomorphic type does not provide useful additional prognostic information.