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We have investigated the use of the antibody MIB1 as a proliferative and prognostic marker in breast cancer and whether changes in proliferative activity could account for differences in prognosis of premenopausal women operated on during different phases of the menstrual cycle. MIB1 expression was strongly correlated with S-phase fraction and histological grade. There was no difference in MIB1 scores between different phases of the menstrual cycle. Both MIB1 score and timing of surgery correlated significantly with duration of survival, while the two together were even stronger predictors of overall survival. Women with slowly proliferating tumours surgically removed in the luteal phase had a very good prognosis, whereas women with rapidly proliferating tumours excised at other times of the cycle had a worse prognosis.