Angiogenesis, as assessed by microvessels, has been a common prognostic indicator for breast cancer in the last decade. However, the significance of angiogenesis remains controversial. This is a retrospective study of 377 Japanese patients selected from 663 breast cancer patients operated on between 1971 and 1987. To evaluate an objective method to quantify microvessel density in angiogenesis, we employed average microvessel count (AMC) per square millimeter. We investigated five factors: angiogenesis, lymph-node status (n), clinical tumor size (T), histological grade (HG), and tumor necrosis (TN), followed for a median of 10 years. Sixty-seven patients (17.8%) had recurrence and 54 patients (14.3%) died of breast cancer. Univariate analysis showed that n, T, HG, and AMC (P=0.0020) were significantly predictive of 20-year relapse-free survival (RFS). n, T, and HG were significantly associated with 20-year overall survival (OS) but AMC was borderline significant (P=0.0630). Multivariate analysis for RFS and OS showed that n, T, HG, and AMC (P<0.0001, P=0.0033, respectively) were all significant and independent prognostic factors. When stratified by T or n, a significant impact of AMC on RFS or OS was seen both in patients with T2 and T3 carcinomas or in node-negative patients, but not in T1 or node-positive patients. Thus, we can confirm angiogenesis as a significant independent prognostic factor associated with long-term survival in Japanese breast cancer patients, especially in node-negative patients and in patients with T2 and T3 carcinomas.