Collagen-binding proteins (CBPs) of rat mammary tumors are identical to Ca(2+)-binding annexins. We have now isolated a protein of 38 kDa from the human mammary tumor cell line ALAB by collagen type I affinity chromatography as well as by extraction of calcium-binding proteins. The 38-kDa band of both preparations was identified as annexin II (calpactin I) by its reaction with an annexin II-specific monoclonal antibody in Western blot analysis. Annexin I (lipocortin I) was not detectable in these cells. Two other human cell lines, the SV40-transformed cell line SV3 and cell line HBL-100, both established from normal mammary glands, were also positive for annexin II and negative for annexin I. In vivo expression of annexins was investigated by immunohistological staining of normal and malignant human mammary tissue. The annexin II-specific mAb reacted with normal and tumor parenchyma whereas the annexin I-specific mAb reacted with acini and ductal myoepithelium of the normal mammary gland but showed no reaction with tumor tissue. Immunolocalization studies also showed annexin II expression in both normal and tumor stroma while only tumor stromal cells were found to be reactive with the antibody against annexin I. The differential expression of annexins in normal and malignant human mammary tissue suggests special functions of these proteins in the mammary gland.