We investigated the in vivo expression of cyclin B1 and Cdc2 (key molecules for G2-M transition during the cell cycle) in nonmalignant and cancerous human breast lesions using immunohistochemistry and quantitative proliferative index (PI) analysis. Breast epithelial cells co-expressed cyclin B1 and Cdc2 in their cytoplasm in the G2 phase and in their nuclei in the M phase. Cyclin B1, but not Cdc2, immunostaining rapidly disappeared from the nuclei during the mitotic metaphase to anaphase transition. Static image analysis revealed the mean proliferative index for cyclin B1/cdc2 for each type of lesion to be as follows: normal glands (n = 20), 2.0/2.5%; benign lesions, including typical ductal hyperplasia (n = 76), 2.5/5.8%; atypical ductal hyperplasia (n = 21), 3.0/6.6%; carcinomas in situ (n = 70), 7.4/14.0%; and invasive carcinomas (n = 58), 10.0/22.9%. Proliferative index data for atypical hyperplasia were virtually identical to those for benign lesions and were significantly lower than those for breast cancer, suggesting that expression levels of cyclin B1 and Cdc2 may be used to distinguish premalignant human breast lesions from advanced disease. Furthermore, the proliferative index for cyclin B1 for comedo-type ductal carcinomas in situ agreed with that for invasive ductal carcinomas (mean, 10.1% versus 9.5%), apparently explaining the clinicopathological aggressiveness of this tumor at the molecular level.