Estrogen receptor (ER) alpha is a well-established independent prognostic factor in breast cancer whose presence determines the clinical implications of adjuvant endocrine therapy. A second receptor, ERb has been described, and a number of studies have examined its expression in breast tissue. However elucidation of the role played by ERb has been hampered by published immunohistochemical studies employing a variety of protocols and scoring systems such that inter-laboratory comparisons are difficult. Here we present a multi-centre study designed to critically evaluate inter-laboratory differences in methodology. Six UK and Irish centres participated in this study. A small series of breast cancers were stained using centre-specific laboratory protocols and scored using both centrespecific and standard scoring protocols. There was generally poor agreement as to what constituted a positive or negative case when centre-specific scoring systems were used with less than half of all cases in agreement. Concordance was improved when a standard scoring system was used but varied according to threshold for positivity employed and primary antibody. Our results emphasise the need for further studies addressing the role of ERb to be based on a wider consensus on criteria for positivity. Ideally this should be based on calibration against clinical outcome.