Tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) is expressed by osteoclasts, macrophages and dendritic cells. TRAP has been identified in a wide variety of tissues, however, its biological function is not fully understood. Serum TRAP is a marker of diseases involving excessive bone resorption including metastatic bone disease in breast cancer patients and can be used to monitor responses to treatment. Our aim in this study was to determine whether TRAP is expressed by human breast tumours. Four breast cancer cell lines were assayed for TRAP activity. MDA-MB-435, the most tumourigenic line, had an activity twofold higher than the other cell lines. Immunohistochemistry using a TRAP specific antibody confirmed that both cell lines and human breast tumours express TRAP. Expression was absent in benign tissues and abundant in more aggressive tumours. This work suggests that tumour derived TRAP contributes to the raised enzyme activity found in the serum of breast cancer patients.