The c-erbB-2 protein in breast cancer tissue extract was determined by using an enzyme-immunoassay (EIA) to see whether the quantitative determination of the oncoprotein correlates with the results of immunohistochemistry and other prognostic factors. Primary breast cancer from 104 patients was assayed for c-erbB-2 protein with an EIA that used two monoclonal antibodies directed against the extracellular domain of the protein. Pelleted tissue homogenate prepared routinely for hormone receptor assay was used as the starting material. The mean quantity of c-erbB-2 protein was 695 unit/mg protein (range 23 to 5939), and this correlated well with the results of immunohistochemical staining (P < 0.00001). It was found that 17.3% (18/104) of all tumors contained amounts of c-erbB-2 protein exceeding 1000 units/mg protein. All tumors with negative or weakly positive staining contained the oncoprotein as less than 1000 units/mg protein. The content of c-erbB-2 protein was correlated with the histologic grade (P = 0.0022), mitotic index (P = 0.0002) and degree of nuclear atypia (P = 0.013). It was inversely correlated with progesterone receptor (P = 0.006) and less strongly with estrogen receptor status (P = 0.016). Values of hormone receptor concentration and c-erbB-2 protein content showed a hyperbolic relationship that suggested biological interactions between c-erbB-2 protein and steroid hormone receptors. We conclude that c-erbB-2 protein in tissue extracts of primary breast cancer can be determined reliably by EIA, and it seems feasible to explore further the advantages of introducing EIA as a routine laboratory examination for providing additional information about the biological aspects of breast cancer.