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The female predominance in meningioma incidence and association between meningioma and breast cancer suggest that growth of meningiomas is hormonedependent. There are several discrepancies in literature about the proliferative effect of sex hormones on meningiomas. This study aims to evaluate the hormone receptor status of meningiomas and assess its relation to age, sex, histological grade, recurrence, and proliferation activity. The material was based on consecutive patients operated for meningioma at Tampere University Hospital in 1989-1999. The occurrence of progesterone, estrogen and androgen receptor in patients with primary and recurrent meningiomas was studied immunohistochemically by using specific monoclonal antibodies. Hormonal status was determined in 510 tumor samples. 443 samples were from primary meningiomas and 67 from recurrent tumors. Of the samples, 455 were benign (WHO grade I), 49 atypical (grade II), and 6 malignant (grade III). Of the primary tumor samples, 88% were progesterone receptor positive, 40% were positive for estrogen and 39% for androgen receptors. Grade I meningiomas had significantly higher incidence for estrogen and androgen receptors than higher grade meningiomas. Estrogen positive tumor samples had significantly higher proliferation index than estrogen negative samples. No difference in expression of sex hormone receptors was observed by sexes or age group. Estrogen and androgen receptors may have more influence on the pathogenesis of meningiomas than earlier thought. The higher incidence of meningiomas in women can not be explained by differences of sex hormone receptor expression.