ID proteins have been implicated in the regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation in various cell types during normal development as well as in the formation of cancer. Our aim was to delineate the expression of ID2 by immunohistochemistry in primary breast cancer in order to detect potential associations with cell cycle regulatory proteins and/or clinicopathologic parameters. We further overexpressed ID2 in a breast cancer cell line to elaborate potential effects on proliferation and invasiveness. We observed large variations in ID2 expression in primary breast cancer, and the protein was localised to both the nucleus and cytoplasm. Interestingly, a high cytoplasmic ID2 protein level correlated with a favourable prognosis. Overexpressing ID2 in the MDA-MB-468 breast cancer cell line generated a marked cytoplasmic localisation of the protein and reduced the invasive capacity of cells. Modest enhancement of cell proliferation was further detected in ID2-overexpressing cells. In conclusion, ID2 protein expression varies substantially within primary breast tumours and high cytoplasmic levels of ID2 might reflect a less aggressive breast tumour phenotype. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.