Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) is a potent growth inhibitor of non-malignant breast tissue, and TGF-beta resistance could play a role in tumorigenesis. Treatment of breast-tumor cells with anti-estrogens and progestins has been shown to correlate with an increase in the levels of secreted TGF-beta, suggesting that the growth inhibition observed with these (anti)hormones is mediated by this growth factor. In the present study we have investigated the effects of anti-estrogens and progestins on breast-tumor cell lines, which are either resistant or sensitive to TGF-beta. A hormone-independent variant of the MCF7 cell line is shown to have lost its sensitivity to TGF-beta during its progression towards an autonomous phenotype, but has preserved its sensitivity to anti-estrogens. In addition, evidence is presented showing that progestins and anti-estrogens inhibit proliferation, irrespective of the sensitivity to TGF-beta in variants of the T47D cell line. Therefore, we conclude that, although TGF-beta seems an important growth inhibitor for mammary epithelial cells, both progestins and anti-estrogens can inhibit cell proliferation independent of induced TGF-beta production.