To elucidate the molecular mechanisms of tamoxifen resistance in breast cancer, we performed gene array analyses and identified 366 genes with altered expression in four unique tamoxifen-resistant (TamR) cell lines vs the parental tamoxifen-sensitive MCF-7/S0.5 cell line. Most of these genes were functionally linked to cell proliferation, death and control of gene expression, and include FYN, PRKCA, ITPR1, DPYD, DACH1, LYN, GBP1 and PRLR. Treatment with FYN-specific small interfering RNA or a SRC family kinase inhibitor reduced cell growth of TamR cell lines while exerting no significant effect on MCF-7/S0.5 cells. Moreover, overexpression of FYN in parental tamoxifen-sensitive MCF-7/S0.5 cells resulted in reduced sensitivity to tamoxifen treatment, whereas knockdown of FYN in the FYN-overexpressing MCF-7/S0.5 cells restored sensitivity to tamoxifen, demonstrating growth- and survival-promoting function of FYN in MCF-7 cells. FYN knockdown in TamR cells led to reduced phosphorylation of 14-3-3 and Cdc25A, suggesting that FYN, by activation of important cell cycle-associated proteins, may overcome the anti-proliferative effects of tamoxifen. Evaluation of the subcellular localization of FYN in primary breast tumors from two cohorts of endocrine-treated ER+ breast cancer patients, one with advanced disease (N=47) and the other with early disease (N=76), showed that in the former, plasma membrane-associated FYN expression strongly correlated with longer progression-free survival (P<0.0002). Similarly, in early breast cancer patients, membrane-associated expression of FYN in the primary breast tumor was significantly associated with increased metastasis-free (P<0.04) and overall (P<0.004) survival independent of tumor size, grade or lymph node status. Our results indicate that FYN has an important role in tamoxifen resistance, and its subcellular localization in breast tumor cells may be an important novel biomarker of response to endocrine therapy in breast cancer.Oncogene advance online publication, 2 June 2014; doi:10.1038/onc.2014.138.