The product of the CDKN2/MTS1 gene, p16(INK4A) (16), inhibits phosphorylation of the retinoblastoma protein, pRB, and thus acts as a negative cell cycle regulator. It is inactivated in a wide range of human malignancies, including breast cancer. Using an immunohistochemical approach, we studied the expression of both p16 and pRB in 104 archival breast tumors, including 63 ductal, 33 lobular, and 8 mixed carcinomas. All specimens except one were evaluable for pRB expression, but only 87 were interpretable for p16 expression, reflecting the lower abundance and greater lability of this protein. Only six tumors showed abnormal RB expression. However, 43 carcinomas (49%) were completely (35) or focally (8) negative for p16. Abnormal p16 expression did not significantly correlate with several histopathological parameters. These findings provide evidence that aberrant p16(INK4A) expression is one of the most common abnormalities in human breast cancer.