Expression of pS2, an oestrogen-regulated gene, has been associated with a good short-term prognosis and response to endocrine therapy. The aim of this study was to determine whether expression of mRNA for the pS2 gene in breast cancer could contribute useful information on disease behaviour and survival at medium-term follow-up. Northern blotting was used to detect pS2 messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) in the primary tumour tissue from each of 90 patients with breast cancer. Axillary node status was established by sampling or clearance, oestrogen receptor concentration by enzyme immunosorbant assay and follow-up was continued for at least 6 years or until death. At 83 months mean follow-up, 29 of 90 (32%) patients had recurrent disease and, of these, 18 (20%) had died from breast cancer. pS2 mRNA expression, present in 26 of 90 (29%) cancers, was associated with freedom from disease recurrence (P = 0.026) and was significantly associated with survival at a minimum of 6 years follow-up (P < 0.001). Pathological node status and tumour size were also significantly associated with disease recurrence (P < 0.001 and P = 0.002 respectively) and inversely with survival (P < 0.001 and P < 0.001 respectively). After multiple Cox regression analysis, pS2 expression was still a significant predictor of recurrence (but not survival) after adjusting for node status and tumour size; oestrogen receptor was an independent predictor of survival. The combination of node status and pS2 expression discriminated patients with particularly good prognosis (node negative, pS2 positive: no mortality at 6 years) or poor prognosis (node positive, pS2 negative; 41% mortality at 6 years). Evaluation of pS2 expression in breast cancer at diagnosis may provide additional useful prognostic information to conventional staging.