Sixty-two primary breast carcinomas were analyzed for estrogen receptor (ER) by both the dextran-coated charcoal (DCC) technique and estrogen receptor immunocytochemical assay (ER-ICA) on cryostat and permanent sections. Paraffin sections of formalin-fixed breast tissue underwent DNase pretreatment to expose the nuclear antigenic site as described by P. Shintaku and J. H. Said (Am J Clin Pathol 87:161, 1987). The results of immunocytochemical staining agreed with those of the DCC biochemical assay in 89% of paraffin-sectioned tissue and in 94% of the cryostat sections. Comparison of the results of ER-ICA on permanent and frozen sections showed 85% agreement (kappa statistic = 0.704). This study suggests that ER can be demonstrated immunocytochemically on paraffin-sectioned breast tissue. However, although highly specific, immunoperoxidase determination on paraffin-embedded tissue is less sensitive than that on frozen tissue. The commercial source of DNase, length of incubation, and tissue fixation are important factors in the demonstration of ER immunoreactivity. The assay may offer an alternative for assessment of ER when tissue is not suitable or available for biochemical assay or conventional cytochemical analysis.