PURPOSE: In the present study, we evaluated the levels of urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) and plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI-1) by performing immunohistochemical staining to determine whether they were reliable prognostic markers in patients with breast cancer. METHODS: Demographic and clinicopathological parameters of 214 patients with invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) and 80 patients with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) who were diagnosed and treated from 2006 to 2010 were analyzed. Tissue microarray was constructed and immunohistochemical staining was performed for each specimen. RESULTS: Univariate analyses showed that age at diagnosis, history of hormone replacement therapy, radiation therapy, skin and chest wall invasion, Paget disease, lymphovascular invasion, estrogen receptor positivity, and triple-negative subtype were significantly associated with patient prognosis (p<0.005). Patients with DCIS showed higher PAI-1 expression than patients with IDC (82.5% and 36.2%, respectively; p=0.012). Lymph node metastasis was more frequent in patients with high uPA levels than in patients with low uPA levels (p=0.001). CONCLUSION: Our results suggested that PAI-1 was involved in tumor progression in the early stages of breast cancer, such as DCIS. In addition, our results suggested that high uPA levels were associated with the lymph node metastasis of IDC.