Papillary neoplasms of the breast are uncommon; at the time of needle aspiration, the diagnostic yield from such lesions can be initially classified as cystic or solid. We describe the fine-needle aspiration findings in four cystic papillary neoplasms (three intracystic papillary carcinomas and one intracystic papilloma) and three solid masses (two sclerosing ductal lesions and one infiltrating ductal carcinoma with prominent papillary component). The smears were examined with respect to the following features: cellularity, architectural pattern in cell groups, cytologic pleomorphism, degree of cohesiveness, morphology and size of individual cells, anisonucleosis, nuclear-cytoplasmic ratio, irregularity of nuclear contour, chromatin texture, macronucleoli, the presence of bipolar nuclei, apocrine cells, and multinucleated giant cells. A combination of cytologic and clinical characteristics may be helpful in distinguishing benign from malignant papillary lesions. © 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.