We have carried out a case-control study to examine the relationship between mammographic signs and breast cancer. The mammographic signs assessed were prominent ducts and dysplasia. The cases were a group of 183 women with histologically verified unilateral breast cancer. The controls were a group of women attending a screening centre. Cases and controls were individually age-matched. Mammograms from the non-cancerous breast of the cases were randomly assembled with those of the controls and classified by 3 radiologists without knowledge of which films were from cases and which from controls. Mammographic dysplasia was found to be strongly associated with breast cancer, particularly in women aged less than 50. Prominent ducts were only weakly associated with breast cancer. Multivariate analysis showed that the association between dysplasia and breast cancer could not be explained on the basis of other risk factors for breast cancer, and that classification of dysplasia discriminated more strongly between cases and controls than did classification of Wolfe's mammographic patterns. These results show that mammograms contain information about risk of breast cancer. Mammographic dysplasia is strongly associated with breast cancer, is present in a substantial proportion of patients with the disease, and may offer opportunities for prevention.