To determine which genes may be activated or inactivated during breast cancer development, we employed two cloning strategies (subtractive hybridization and differential display) using RNA samples from a human breast tumor and its matching normal breast cell line. Of 950 clones isolated, 102 cDNA inserts were analysed by DNA sequencing and database searching. We found 30 clones that were obviously unidentified, with no significant homology to any listed human gene. We focused upon one of the novel genes, Di12, that is differentially expressed as a 1.35 kb RNA in breast cancer tissues and cell-lines, and in several normal tissues. A full length cDNA of this gene was cloned, and its DNA sequence revealed an open reading frame of 339 amino acids. Antibodies to the ten N-terminal amino acids were developed to investigate the expression of Di12 in breast cancer cell-lines and tumors. The Di12 protein was found in tissue sections of infiltrating ductal carcinomas (IDCs), but not in benign or normal breast specimens. RT-PCR analysis confirmed expression of Di12 in 80% of infiltrating ductal carcinomas (IDCs). As IDC constitutes approximately 70% of breast cancers seen clinically, the level of Di12 expression may be predictive of disease progression.