We investigated the consequences of augmented c-myc gene expression in the mammary gland of transgenic mice. For this purpose we directed the expression of a mouse c-myc transgene to the differentiating mammary epithelial cells by subjecting the protein coding region to the 5' regulatory sequences of the murine whey acidic protein gene (Wap). Analogous to the expression pattern of the endogenous Wap gene, the Wap-myc transgene is abundantly expressed in the mammary gland during lactation. The tissue-specific and hormone-dependent expression of the Wap-myc transgene results in an 80% incidence of mammary adenocarcinomas. As early as two months after the onset of Wap-myc expression, tumours occur in the mammary glands of the transgenic animals. The tumours express not only the Wap-myc transgene, but also the endogenous Wap and beta casein genes. The expression of the milk protein genes becomes independent of the lactogenic hormonal stimuli and persists even in transplanted nude mouse tumours.