Anti-breast cancer antibodies (BC2, HMPV and 4B6) and an anti-ovarian cancer antibody (OM1) were found to react with mucins--indeed with the protein core encoded by the MUC1 gene. This gene contains a VNTR (variable number of tandem repeats) encoding a 60 bp (= 20 amino acids) repeat sequence and within this amino acid sequence SAPDTRPAP was predicted, by hydrophilicity analysis, to be the immunogenic peptide sequence. The four antibodies were shown to react with MUC1 VNTR encoded peptides in direct binding and inhibition studies. The precise reactivity of the 4 mAbs was mapped using ELISA in both solid and liquid phase, and demonstrated the epitopes to be: APDTR (BC2 and HMPV), PDTR (4B6) and DTRPA (OM1). By using the pepscan method, the epitopes were shorter (PDTR, DTR and DTRP). However when these short peptides (except DTR) were synthesized they did not react; flanking amino acids are needed for the epitopes. Clearly several different methods should be used to define the reactive epitope. Within (S)APDTR, major amino acid substitutions could be made--even of three to four amino acids without altering antibody binding, provided that P and R were not substituted. It was of interest that an anti-ovarian cancer antibody gave similar anti-peptide reactions to the anti-breast cancer antibodies; apparently MUC1 peptides in ovarian cancer are the same as in breast cancer.