Changes in the CD44 variant (CD44v) isoforms on the cell surface have been correlated with tumor metastasis. In this study we have examined the expression of CD44 variant isoforms in human breast carcinoma samples by a variety of techniques including immunohistochemistry, reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), and nucleotide sequencing. Using RT-PCR, we have determined that normal human breast tissue contains primarily the CD44 epithelial (CD44E) form and very little CD44 standard (CD44s) form. However, metastatic breast carcinomas appear to overexpress both the CD44E and CD44s forms and also display multiple new species of CD44 variant isoforms. Histocytochemical staining using anti-CD44 antibody (recognizing a common determinant of the CD44 class of glycoproteins) confirms that the CD44 molecules are overexpressed and preferentially located in metastatic breast cancer tissues. Nucleotide sequencing analyses indicate that at least four new CD44 variant isoforms (i.e., displaying unique splicing via the insertion or the deletion of exons 7, 10, 11, and 14) may be closely associated with human metastatic breast cancers. These newly described CD44 variant isoforms may be useful for monitoring the progression of human breast cancer metastasis.