Hormones such as melatonin whose serum concentrations vary seasonally have been previously implicated in the growth of breast cancer. The present study was undertaken to identify possible seasonal variation in a range of mammotrophic hormones which could exert a chronobiologic influence in women with breast tumours. Fifteen premenopausal women with a history of previous breast cancer (BC subjects) and 10 control women underwent 2-hourly serum sampling for 24 h at both summer and winter solstice for measurement of melatonin, growth hormone (GH), insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), cortisol, prolactin and thyrotrophin (TSH). Hormone secretion at the different seasons was compared by measuring the area under the 24 h serum hormone concentration x time curves and by time series analysis of summer-to-winter differences in hormone concentration. Control women had significantly higher GH and IGF-I levels in summer compared to winter and significantly higher cortisol secretion in winter than summer. In contrast, BC women had no significant seasonal difference in IGF-I concentrations and had a reversal of the normal seasonal pattern of melatonin secretion, although seasonal changes in GH production were similar to controls. Prolactin and TSH showed no significant summer/winter variation in either group. Thus, seasonal variations in hormone secretion seen in normal women were, with exception of GH, absent or reversed in women with a previous history of breast cancer. As a result these individuals may be exposed to an asynchronous hormonal stimulus which could influence tumour growth. These changes could reflect a constitutional abnormality in BC women or may have been induced by the previous breast tumour.