When hormone antagonists have inappropriate agonist-like effects, the clinical consequences are grave. We describe novel molecular mechanisms by which antiprogestin-occupied progesterone receptors behave like agonists. These mechanisms include agonist-like transcriptional effects that do not require receptor binding to DNA at progesterone response elements, or that result from cross-talk between progesterone receptors and other signalling pathways. We discuss the complex structural organization of progesterone receptors, and demonstrate that the B receptor isoform has a unique third activation domain that may confer agonist-like properties in the presence of antiprogestins, whereas the A receptor isoform is a dominant-negative inhibitor. We argue that these novel mechanisms play a role in the apparent hormone resistance of breast cancers and the variable tissue-specific responses to antagonists.