Young age does not seem to be directly related to the aggressiveness of the disease among patients with breast cancer. Identification and analysis of the alterations in a susceptibility gene expression in breast cancer occurring in young women may allow identification of those patients in whom tumors will show an aggressive clinical course. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the association of BRCA1, H-rns, and c-erbB-2 gene expression with clinicopathologic parameters of prognosis in breast cancer. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue from 35 patients with breast cancer younger than 35 years were immunohistochemically stained for BRCA1, H-ras, and c-erbB-2 expression with monoclonal antibodies. For each antibody, immunoreactivity was assessed by a semiquantitative scoring system. Each case was also graded according to the modified Bloom-Richardson criteria and evaluated for Ki-67 labeling index, hormonal status, tumor size, distant metastasis, and axillary lymph node involvement. Strong expression of c-erbB-2 and H-ms were observed in 9 cases (25.7%) and 13 cases (37.2%), respectively. Loss of BRCA1 expression was found in five cases (14.3%). Statistical analysis showed that loss of BRCA1 expression was significantly associated with higher Ki-67 labeling index and greater tumor size. In addition, stronger H-ras expression was significantly associated with lymph node involvement and distant metastasis. However, c-erbB-2 immunoreactivity did not show statistical significance with any prognostic parameters. We conclude that, although care must be taken not to overstate the importance of our results in view of the lack of information on clinical outcome, alterations in BRCA1 and H-ras gene expression might be of prognostic importance because of the role of H-ras protein on metastatic behavior and the role of BRCA1 protein on tumor growth. However, c-erbB-2 expression seems to be of no importance in the prognosis of breast cancer occurring in young women.