To assess the practical prognostic value of c-erbB2, we performed a study on 942 invasive ductal carcinomas treated with primary surgery between 1980 and 1986 in our center. We evaluated its expression by immunohistochemistry in paraffin-embedded tissue using a polyclonal antipeptide antibody. Of 942 tumors, 229 (24%) showed a positive membrane staining. We observed a significant association between c-erbB2 and Scarff-Bloom-Richardson grading (p < 0.0001) and a negative correlation between c-erbB2 and both estrogen and progesterone receptors (p < 0.0001). In our analysis, with respect to overall survival (OS), relapse-free survival (RFS), and metastasis-free survival (MFS), c-erbB2 was statistically significant (p < or = 0.0001) for the whole group and the node-positive subgroup. In multivariate analysis, c-erbB2 appeared to be an independent variable for RFS and MFS in the node-negative group. However, in our hands, c-erbB2 had a poor prognostic value in comparison with the classical prognostic variables such as histological grade, nodal status (N), hormonal receptor status (estrogen and progesterone receptors), and tumor size, and it did not supersede the classical parameters.