Posttranscriptional regulation may enhance or inhibit estrogen transcriptional control to promote proliferation of breast cancer cells. To understand how transcriptome and translational responses coordinate to drive proliferation, we determined estrogen's global and specific effects on translation regulation by comparing the genome-wide profiles of total mRNA, polysome-associated mRNA, and monosome-associated mRNAs in MCF-7 cells after stimulation by 1 h of 10 nm 17beta-estradiol (E2). We observe three significant, novel findings. 1) E2 regulates several transcripts and pathways at the translation level. 2) We find that polysome analysis has higher sensitivity than total RNA in detecting E2-regulated transcripts as exemplified by observing stronger E2-induced enrichment of E2 expression signatures in polysomes more than in total RNA. This increased sensitivity allowed the identification of the repression of neural restrictive silencing factor targets in polysome-associated RNA but not total RNA. NRSF activity was required for E2 stimulation of the cell cycle. 3) We observe that the initial translation state is already high for E2 up-regulated transcripts before E2 treatment and vice versa for E2 down-regulated transcripts. This suggests that the translation state anticipates potential E2-induced transcriptome levels. Together, these data suggest that E2 stimulates breast cancer cells by regulating translation using multiple mechanisms. In sum, we show that polysome profiling of E2 regulation of breast cancer cells provides novel insights into hormone action and can identify novel factors critical for breast cancer cell growth.