The role of p53 in modulating apoptosis has suggested that it may affect efficacy of anti cancer agents. For this reason, we have evaluated p53 alterations in 282 consecutive patients with infiltrating node-negative breast cancer who underwent primary surgery and were randomized either to CMF (Cyclophosphamide 400 mg/m2, Fluorouracil 400 mg/m2, and Methotrexate 40 mg/m2) or control arm (no adjuvant therapy) from 1980 to 1989. p53 alterations were analyzed by immunohistochemistry using DO7 MoAb, revealed by immunoperoxidase technique, and quantitated in term of percentage of positive cells. We observed a positive staining in 24% of the tumors. Among them, 10% had a positive staining in more than 75% of the cells. There was a highly significant association between the proportion of positive cells and histologic grade of the infiltrating ductal carcinomas (p<0.004). However, there was no association with age, tumor size, hormone receptor content, or vascular embolism. There was a trend but no significant relationship between positive staining and overall survival either in each arm of the trial or in the overall population. Interestingly, we observed a higher relative risk of local relapse after conservative therapy in the boosted area in the group of mutated p53 (RR=4.41; p<0.0005). We conclude that, in this node-negative breast tumor population, alteration of p53 cannot predict the response to the chemotherapy. However, it may represent a useful marker of risk of local relapse and of radio resistance.