The proto-oncogene bcl-2 is demonstrated to block a final common pathway leading to apoptosis and is expressed in more than half of human breast cancers. Invasive breast cancer has reduced bcl-2 immunostaining compared with normal breast epithelia and preinvasive breast lesions. As an inhibitor of apoptosis, bcl-2 should correlate with highly aggressive tumor biology and resistance to hormonal/cytotoxic therapy. However, high bcl-2 expression has been shown to associate with a number of favorable prognostic factors including ER positivity, PgR positivity, low histological grade, well-differentiated tumor, absence of c-erbB-2 and p53. Unexpectedly, numerous studies have shown that tumors with high bcl-2 expression are more responsive to hormone therapy and have more favorable disease-free and overall survival. The clinical significance of bcl-2 in tumorigenesis and prognosis of breast carcinomas from the data recently published are reviewed. Its role in modulation of hormonal/cytotoxic therapy and future directions are also discussed.