The associations between serum concentrations of oestradiol, progesterone, testosterone and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) and risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women were investigated in a prospective study of breast cancer on the island of Guernsey. Sixty-two women diagnosed with breast cancer an average of 8 years subsequent to blood collection were matched for day of menstrual cycle, age and year of blood collection with 182 control subjects. Cases had a 12% higher mean oestradiol concentration over the whole menstrual cycle (P = 0.17) with a large difference at mid-cycle (75% higher, P = 0.04). Differences between cases and control subjects in progesterone (luteal phase), testosterone and SHBG were small and not statistically significant: luteal phase progesterone 9% lower in cases, P = 0.64; testosterone 4% higher, P = 0.57; SHBG 8% higher, P = 0.24. The small difference in oestradiol concentration could be aetiologically important, but larger prospective studies are needed.