Heregulin (HRG) is an activator of the erbB2-, erbB3- and erbB4-(erbB-2/3/4) signaling pathway. Transfection of full-length HRG cDNA into the estrogen (E2)-dependent cell line MCF-7 promoted an invasive E2-independent phenotype, as well as persistent activation of the erbB-2/3/4 receptors. Moreover, HRG expression in MCF-7 cells renders the cells sensitive to the topoisomerase II inhibitor doxorubicin (Doxo). In an attempt to dissociate the tumorigenic effect of HRG from the sensitizing effect to chemotherapy, we constructed a structural deletion mutant of HRG. Transfection of the deletion mutant of HRG described in this study (HRG/M) into MCF-7 cells resulted in the dissociation of the tumor-promoting activity of HRG from the sensitization to Doxo, that is, although the cells did not become more aggressive or E2-independent they became more sensitive to Doxo. HRG/M was unable to autophosphorylate the erbB receptors and did not affect the level of MAPK phosphorylation. Furthermore, the intracellular localization of the protein was different from that of the full-length protein. Our data show that the HRG/M sequences are sufficient to sensitize MCF-7 cells to Doxo, and provide evidence that this sensitization is independent of erbB2 activation.