To examine gene-expression patterning in late-stage breast cancer biopsies, we used a microdissection technique to separate tumor from the surrounding breast tissue or stroma. A DD-PCR protocol was then used to amplify expressed products, which were resolved using PAGE and used as probe to hybridize with representative human arrays and cDNA libraries. The probe derived from the tumor–stroma comparison was hybridized with a gene array and an arrayed cDNA library derived from a GCT of bone; 21 known genes or expressed sequence tags were detected, of which 17 showed differential expression. These included factors associated with epithelial to mesenchymal transition (vimentin), the cargo selection protein (TIP47) and the signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT3). Northern blot analysis was used to confirm those genes also expressed by representative breast cancer cell lines. Notably, 6 genes of unknown function were restricted to tumor while the majority of stroma-associated genes were known. When applied to transformed breast cancer cell lines (MDA-MB-435 and T47D) that are known to have different metastatic potential, DD array analysis revealed a further 20 genes; 17 of these genes showed differential expression. Use of microdissection and the DD-PCR array protocol allowed us to identify factors whose localized expression within the breast may play a role in abnormal breast development or breast carcinogenesis. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.