Various proteases have been shown to be present in malignant breast tissue. Although the question of the involvement of tissue kallikrein, a serine protease, in the pathophysiology of tumours has been raised, the presence of this enzyme in human breast carcinoma has so far not been examined. In the present study, both neoplastic and normal human breast are scanned by immunocytochemistry for the presence and cellular localization of tissue kallikrein. In the healthy breast, tissue kallikrein was observed as a deposit of immunoreactive material that localized in the apical portion of duct cells. In the malignant breast tumours surveyed, the enzyme was observed only in ductal carcinomas, whereas lobular carcinomas were devoid of immunostaining. In ductal carcinomas, the immunoreactivity for tissue kallikrein appeared to be associated with gradations of malignancy, being absent in dedifferentiated tumours. The presence of tissue kallikrein in malignant breast tumours poses the question of the role of this enzyme in malignant breast tissue. The enzyme may participate within the tissue either in proteolytic processes (it has been shown to activate procollagenase) or by enhancing vascularity or mitogenicity by the generation of kinins.