Monoclonal antibodies which recognize one or only a few keratin polypeptides have been used to study the distribution of different keratins in benign and malignant breast lesions by immunocytochemical methods. Seven monoclonal antibodies which recognized either different keratin polypeptides by immunoblotting techniques, or identified different epithelial cell types in complex tissues were used. In two mastopathies and three fibroadenomas the antibody lu5 stained luminal cells as well as myoepithelial cells. In contrast the antibodies CK7, Troma 1, CK2 and KA4 labeled only luminal cells, whereas antibody CKB1 decorated only myoepithelial cells. All 15 ductal carcinomas showed a uniform staining of tumor cells with the antibodies Troma 1, CK2, KA4 and lu5. The antibody CK7 also stained all ductal carcinomas, but in two specimens the staining was heterogeneous. The antibody CKB1 decorated only the pre-existing myoepithelial cells in 11 of 12 ductal carcinomas but in the remaining specimen the tumor cells were also strongly positive. Tumor cells in lobular carcinomas were labeled by antibodies CK7, Troma 1, CK2, KA4, bu not by CKB1. The antibody CKS1 showed no staining of any of the benign and malignant breast lesions.