Recent studies have suggested that insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) and insulin-like growth factor binding proteins (IGFBPs) may be implicated in the development and progression of breast cancer. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a serine protease, may play a role in the regulation of IGFs' function through cleavage of IGFBP-3, resulting in release of active IGFs from IGFBP-3. As IGFs, IGFBPs and PSA are all present in breast cancer, possible associations among these proteins were speculated. In this study, we have measured PSA, IGF-I, IGF-II, IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-3 in tumour tissue cytosols from 200 women with primary breast cancer, and have examined relationships between IGFs or IGFBPs and PSA along with other markers, including p53 protein, steroid hormone receptors (oestrogen and progesterone), cathepsin-D, epidermal growth factor receptor, Her-2/neu protein, S-phase fraction and DNA ploidy. Correlations or associations between PSA and IGF-I, IGF-II, IGFBP-1 or IGFBP-3 were not observed. IGF-II was positively correlated with both IGFBP-3 and IGFBP-1. IGF-I was not associated with either of the two binding proteins, nor with IGF-II. Both IGF-II and IGFBP-3 were inversely associated with the oestrogen receptor, and IGFBP-3 was also positively associated with S-phase fraction. Our finding of IGF-II and IGFBP-3 in association with unfavourable prognostic indicators of breast cancer suggests that IGFs may be involved in the progression of breast cancer.