Matrigel invasion assays were used to characterize the invasive abilities of five breast cancer cell lines. Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) was used to detect the differential gene expression of estrogen receptor (ER), E-cadherin, vimentin and cathepsin D in these cell lines. Using mRNA differential display, we identified novel cDNA clones representing the partial sequences of genes overexpressed in the invasive MDA-MB-435 cells as compared to that of the less invasive MCF-7 cells. One of the cDNAs was homologous to reticulocalbin. The studies were repeated in all of the cell lines and the overexpression of this cDNA was confirmed by RT-PRC and Northern hybridization analysis. Reticulocalbin was expressed in the highly invasive breast cancer cell lines but was not expressed in poorly invasive ones. Although its function is still unknown, reticulocalbin is implicated in tumor cell invasiveness because of its differential expression in breast tumor cell lines.