OBJECTIVE : While enhanced expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO) and their derived metabolites is associated with breast cancer (BC) risk, the precise link between BC carcinogenesis and enhanced inflammatory activity remains to be clarified. Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) may induce expression of COX-2 and 5-LO and is frequently found in breast cancer biopsies. Thus, we investigated whether there is an association between HCMV proteins and expression of COX-2 and 5-LO in human BC tissue and BC cell lines. METHODS : Paraffin embedded biopsies obtained from 49 patients with breast cancer and 26 tissue samples from adjacent, benign breast tissues were retrospectively examined for HCMV-immediate early (IE), HCMV-Late (LA), COX-2, and 5-LO proteins by immunohistochemistry. In vitro, uninfected and HCMV-infected BC cell lines were examined for COX-2 and 5-LO transcripts and proteins by PCR and flow cytometry. RESULTS : Extensive expression of COX-2, 5-LO and HCMV-IE proteins were preferentially detected in BC samples. We found a statistically significant concordant correlation between extensive HCMV-IE and COX-2 (P < 0.0001) as well as with HCMV-IE and 5-LO (P = 0.0003) in infiltrating BC. In vitro, HCMV infection induced COX-2 and 5-LO transcripts and COX-2 proteins in MCF-7 cells (P =0.008, P =0.018, respectively). In MDA-MB-231 cells that already had high base line levels of COX-2 expression, HCMV induced both COX-2 and 5-LO proteins but not transcripts. CONCLUSIONS : Our findings demonstrate a significant correlation between extensive HCMV-IE protein expression and overexpression of COX-2 and 5-LO in human breast cancer.