Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a 33 kDa serine protease which is produced by many different tissues in the body and has been shown to be present in low concentrations in breast milk and in about 30% of breast cancers. The presence of PSA in breast cancers is associated with the presence of steroid-hormone receptors and may be a favourable prognostic indicator. In this study, PSA immunoreactivity was measured in breast cyst fluid obtained from women with palpable breast cysts which is the most common benign breast disease. PSA was found to be present in very low concentrations in breast cyst fluid. In an attempt to understand the possible role of PSA in the breast, the effect of PSA on growth of the hormone-dependent MCF-7 and hormone-independent MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cell lines was studied. In addition, the effect of PSA on oestrone sulphatase activity and oestrogen 17-oxidoreductase activity in these cell lines was investigated. PSA, in low concentrations, was found to inhibit MCF-7 cell growth and to stimulate the conversion of oestradiol to the less potent oestrogen oestrone in this cell line. PSA had no effect on the MDA-MB-231 cell line. Our findings suggest that PSA may act as a negative growth regulator in hormone-dependent breast cancers.