The technique of fine needle aspiration (FNA) is increasingly used in the investigation of breast abnormalities both palpable and impalpable. However, up to 20% of aspirates fall into two categories which require further investigation, because they either show cytological atypia or exhibit features which are suspicious of malignancy (reporting categories C3 and C4). The usefulness of the 27-kD heat shock protein (HSP27) expression in refining these categories of suspicion, and possibly in predicting malignancy, was investigated using an established immunocytochemical staining procedure. Positive HSP27 staining was shown by 73.1% of C4 and 33.3% of C3 FNAs. Statistical analysis showed a significant difference between the results obtained for the C3 and C4 FNAs.