The expression of transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF-alpha), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-R) and oncogenes c-erbB-2, c-H-ras, c-myc, as well as estrogen (ER) and progesterone (PR) receptors were studied immunohistochemically in the tissue of 21 benign and 58 malignant human breast lesions. Twenty nine (50%) of 58 carcinomas were positive for EGF-R and c-erbB-2 product, 55 (94.8%) for c-myc product, 9 (15.5%) for c-H-ras product and 17 (29%) for TGF-alpha. Eighteen of 58 (31%) carcinomas were estrogen receptor positive and 22 (38%) were positive for progesterone receptor. No correlation was found between expression of each investigated parameter and the clinical stage or degree of histological differentiation of the carcinomas. However, a significant positive correlation was observed between lymph node involvement and c-erbB-2 and EGF-R/c-erbB-2 positive tumors. A strong correlation was also observed between high levels of EGF-R and low levels of estrogen receptor. In 15 of 17 cases we found simultaneous expression of EGF-R and TGF-alpha. We also found interesting patterns in concomitant expression of the investigated parameters suggesting a possible cascade of events that occur in breast cancer cells.