BRK is a recently described non receptor protein tyrosine kinase whose mRNA was found to be expressed in human breast tumours and breast cancer cell lines. Expression of BRK in fibroblasts and mammary epithelial cells has been shown to enhance their ability to grow anchorage independently, and mammary epithelial cells expressing BRK acquire a potentiated mitogenic response to epidermal growth factor. In order to investigate further the expression of BRK in breast cancers, we have isolated monoclonal antibodies specifically recognising the protein. Whereas BRK expression was low or undetectable in normal mammary tissue and benign lesions, approximately two-thirds of breast tumours expressed appreciable levels, and 27% of tumours over expressed BRK by fivefold or more (up to 43x). This expression pattern was mirrored in a comparison of cell lines derived either from normal mammary epithelial cells or from carcinomas. BRK expression was found to be constant throughout the cell cycle, and did not vary with cell proliferation rate. A consideration of this expression data, in conjunction with BRK's demonstrated ability to deregulate the proliferation of mammary epithelial cells, supports the hypothesis that the over expression of BRK in a high proportion of breast carcinomas is a functionally important factor in their evolution.