PS2, an oestrogen-inducible protein, was measured in the cytosol of 230 primary tumours from patients who were subjected to first-line tamoxifen therapy for advanced disease without prior adjuvant therapy with tamoxifen. PS2 correlated positively with oestrogen receptor (ER, P < 0.01) and progesterone receptor content (PgR, P < 0.001), and with the length of progression-free survival (PFS, P = 0.05). Although not statistically significant, higher levels of PS2 (> or = 10 ng mg-1 protein) were also associated with increased probability of response to tamoxifen treatment and a longer total post-relapse survival (PRS). ER, PgR, menopausal status, site of disease and prior adjuvant chemotherapy were all associated with response to tamoxifen therapy and with PFS. In multivariate analysis for PFS, low levels of ER and PgR, visceral metastasis, a disease-free interval of less than 1 year and prior adjuvant chemotherapy were all significantly associated with an increased probability of a rapid disease progression after start of tamoxifen therapy. In the subset of 83 tumours with intermediate levels of ER and PgR (both > or = 10, but not both > or = 75 fmol mg-1 protein), PS2 was positively related with the length of PFS (P < 0.01) and PRS (P < 0.05). PS2 remained the strongest factor in multivariate analysis for PFS (P < 0.01) in this ER/PgR intermediate subgroup, but was not of predictive value in univariate or multivariate analysis for both PFS and PRS in tumours classified as ER/PgR low or high (> or = 75 fmol mg-1 protein). It is concluded that PS2 status may be used as a parameter, additional to ER and PgR, for better refinement of prediction of response to tamoxifen treatment in advanced breast cancer patients especially with intermediate ER/PgR levels in their primary tumour.