Cyclins, the regulatory subunits of cyclin-dependent kinases, play an important role in the control of cellular proliferation. Since dysregulated expression of these genes may contribute to the malignant phenotype the expression and amplification of cyclin A, B1, C, D1, D2, D3 and E genes were studied in 20 breast cancer cell lines. Increased expression of one or more of the cyclin A, B1, D1 or E genes was found in seven cell lines (35%); of these five (25%) showed increased expression of cyclin D1. Overexpression occurred in both the presence and absence of gene amplification. Conversely, amplification did not invariably lead to overexpression. Cyclin D2 expression was lower in breast cancer cell lines than in cultured normal breast epithelial cells. Cyclin D1 expression was further investigated in breast tumour biopsies: 56 of 124 specimens (45%) expressed higher levels of cyclin D1 mRNA than normal breast tissue. These data implicate dysregulated expression of several cyclin genes, particularly cyclin D1, as a potential factor in the pathogenesis of breast cancer.