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Cyclin D1 plays an important role in the development of breast cancer and is required for normal breast cell proliferation and differentiation associated with pregnancy. We show that ectopic expression of cyclin D1 can stimulate the transcriptional activity of the estrogen receptor in the absence of estradiol and that this activity can be inhibited by 4-hydroxytamoxifen and ICI 182,780. Cyclin D1 can form a specific complex with the estrogen receptor. Stimulation of the estrogen receptor by cyclin D1 is independent of cyclin-dependent kinase 4 activation. Cyclin D1 may manifest its oncogenic potential in breast cancer in part through binding to the estrogen receptor and activation of the transcriptional activity of the receptor.