Wild type and three mutated alleles of the polymorphic CYP2D6 gene were studied in genomic DNA samples from 187 women with breast carcinoma and 151 healthy women by a mutation-specific polymerase chain reaction. The prevalence of the enzyme-inactivating CYP2D6(B) allele was higher among patients (18.2%) than in controls (11.6%; OR = 1.7; 95% c.i. = 1.14-3.13; P = 0.018). This excess was more marked in postmenopausal patients (19.8%, P = 0.0086) and in patients with non-ductal infiltrating carcinomas (25.8%, P = 0.003). The percentage of carriers of only one active gene (heterozygote extensive metabolizers) was higher in patients (31% vs. 19.9%; OR = 1.81; 95% c.i. = 1.06-3.11; P = 0.02). The CYP2D6(B)-carrier state may be related to a greater risk of breast cancer in women.