Tamoxifen as sole initial therapy is gaining importance in the management of post-menopausal breast cancer patients. Age oestrogen (ER) and progesterone (PR) receptor status are accurately considered to select patients for hormonal treatment. However, additional markers are needed. By immunohistochemistry (IHC), we studied tumour expression of ER, PR, pS2, c-erbB-2 and glutathione S-transferase pi (GST pi) on initial core biopsies of 208 post-menopausal patients with a non-metastatic invasive ductal carcinoma, treated by neoadjuvant tamoxifen therapy. A good response to tamoxifen was defined as tumoral regression > or = 50% (110 patients). Relationship between response and age, tumour size, T, N, histological grade, ER and PR contents evaluated by radioimmunoassay, ER, PR, pS2, c-erbB-2 and GST pi expression evaluated by IHC were studied. Univariate and multivariate analysis showed that tumoral regression was linked only to pS2 (P = 0.004) and ER (P = 0.018) IHC expression. According to the immunohistochemical profile, three groups could be defined: pS2- and ER-positive tumours, pS2- or ER-positive tumours and pS2- and ER-negative tumours with response rates of 60%, 45% and 8% respectively. Although prospective studies are needed to confirm these results, we conclude that pS2 and ER immunohistochemical status are useful tools for predicting tumour regression with neoadjuvant tamoxifen in post-menopausal breast carcinoma patients.