Résumé : BACKGROUND: Locally advanced and/or inflammatory breast cancer (LABC) is a heterogeneous disease. Molecular markers may help to understand this heterogeneity. This paper reports the results of a study assessing the potential prognostic or predictive value of HER-2, p53, cyclinD1, MIB1, ER and PgR expression by immunohistochemistry from patients included in an EORTC-NCIC-SAKK trial. PATIENTS AND METHODS: A total of 448 patients with a cytological or histological diagnosis of LABC were randomised into a trial comparing two anthracycline-based neoadjuvant regimens. Chemotherapy was followed by standard locoregional therapy. Survival was comparable in both arms. We collected and analysed centrally paraffin-embedded tumour specimens from 187 (72.5%) of 258 patients that had a histological diagnosis. RESULTS: Of the patients included in this molecular marker study 114 relapsed and 91 died. In the multivariate analysis p53 positivity was associated with a shorter progression-free survival [hazard ratio (HR) = 1.96; 95% CI 1.33-2.91; P = 0.0008) and a shorter overall survival (HR = 1.98; 95% CI 1.28-3.06; P = 0.002). PgR positivity predicted for a longer overall survival (HR = 0.54; 95% CI 0.35-0.83; P = 0.0045). CONCLUSIONS: p53 was an independent factor predicting for survival. In order to clarify whether p53 is a pure prognostic and/or a predictive factor, a phase III trial is being conducted (EORTC 10994/BIG 00-01 study) using functional assay in yeast from frozen tumour samples.