Estrogen receptor (ER) positive rates in breast cancer may be influenced by grade, stage, age and race. This study reviews the ER positive rates over a 15-year period at the University Malaya Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Data on ER status of 3557 patients from 1994 to 2008 was analyzed. ER status was determined by immunohistochemistry with a cut-off point of 10%. ER positivity increased by about 2% for every 5-year cohort, from 54.5% in 1994-1998 to 58.4% in 2004-2008. Ethnicity and grade were significantly associated with ER positivity rates: Malay women were found to have a higher risk of ER negative tumors compared with Chinese women. Grade 1 cancers were nine times more likely to be ER positive compared with grade 3 cancers. In summary, the proportion of ER positive cancers increased with each time period, and ethnicity and grade were independent factors that influenced ER positive rates. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.