Effects of the green tea catechins (GTCs) on the late promotion or progression stage of mammary gland carcinogenesis were examined in female Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats pretreated with 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene (DMBA). A total of 84 7-week-old rats received a 50 mg/kg body weight intra-gastric dose of DMBA, and starting 13 weeks thereafter, when the tumor incidence had reached 50%, three groups of 28 animals each were placed on diet containing 0.5% Polyphenon E (58.4% content (-)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)) (groups 1a and 1b), 0.5% EGCG-80 (81% content of EGCG) (groups 2a and 2b) or basal diet alone (groups 3a and 3b) for 23 weeks. The experiment was terminated at week 36. The growth (i.e. change in mean diameter) of mammary tumors present at week 13 (groups 1a, 2a and 3a) was not influenced by the treatment with EGCGs, with no significant intergroup differences in the lesion incidences, multiplicity or size being observed. Values for these parameters did show a tendency for decrease in group 2b (Polyphenon E) as compared to group 3b (control) during the study, but they were not significantly reduced at the sacrifice time point. These results indicate that GTCs are not effective at inhibiting progression of rat mammary carcinogenesis, but Polyphenon E may exert a weak inhibitory effect on the early promotion stage.