In this paper we describe how research on the mouse mammary tumor virus model of breast cancer resulted in the identification of an amplified region of DNA on human chromosome 11 band q13. This amplification occurs in approximately 15% of primary breast cancers. Several candidate oncogenes map within the amplicon but by analysing expression of these genes a strong case can be made for a role for cyclin D1 in tumorigenesis. Immunohistochemical staining indicates that cyclin D1 is expressed at elevated levels in around 40% of breast cancers, including those with the 11q13 amplification. The potential function of cyclin D1 as a regulator of early cell division cycle events would be consistent with a role in neoplasia.