Résumé : Expression of estrogen receptor (ER) is a helpful predictor of response to endocrine therapy and disease free survival in breast cancer patients. The presence of variant estrogen receptors has been demonstrated at the RNA/DNA level and might represent an escape of tumors from hormonal control mechanisms. However, the demonstration that the corresponding peptides do exist is a real challenge. Denaturing polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) of covalently bound [3H]tamoxifen aziridine ([3H]TAZ) to ER demonstrates a specific, multiband peptide pattern recognized by anti-ER monoclonal antibodies (anti-ER Mo Abs). The native 66 kDa ER form identified through its hormone binding domain by the H-222 Mo Ab was the most prominent one followed by 50, 35, and 28 kDa forms on fluorography. Such patterns from early human breast tumors were compared to the ones of more advanced disease, namely large primary breast cancers, metastatic lymph nodes, and soft tissue relapses: in these cases, molecular forms of 43 and 35 kDa were identified with a remarkable consistency. The 43 kDa peptide was more frequently identified by the H-226 Mo Ab (which maps a region near the DNA binding domain)-albeit with low labeling intensity as compared to H-222 Mo Ab. In addition, the 43 kDa peptide was inversely correlated to ER levels. This altered ER or related peptide could potentially be a marker of biologically aggressive breast tumors.