Previous work has shown that extensive mammographic dysplasia in women aged less than 50 was strongly associated with breast cancer but that the radiological appearance of ductal prominence was not associated with risk. In the present paper we examine the association between these mammographic signs in the breast and histological patterns in the terminal ductal lobular unit (TDLU), the region of the breast where breast cancer is believed to originate. Surgical biopsies from a consecutive series of women aged less than 50 were reviewed and classified according to the histopathology of the epithelium in the TDLU. Mammograms from the same subjects were independently classified according to the extent of the radiological signs of dysplasia and ductal prominence. Degree of histopathology and the extent of mammographic dysplasia were associated and atypia of the ductal type was found more frequently in patients with extensive dysplasia. However, the strength and statistical significance of the association varied according to the radiologist who classified the mammograms. No association was found between degree of histopathology and ductal prominence. These results add to the evidence that extensive mammographic dysplasia in women aged less than 50 is a risk factor for breast cancer. They do not indicate that the radiological signs of dysplasia are caused by histological changes in the TDLU.