We investigated whether maternal exposure during pregnancy to cow's milk containing endogenous estrogens and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and either high or low levels of isoflavones from dietary legumes (HIM and LIM, respectively) affected carcinogen-induced mammary carcinogenesis in female rat offspring. Pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats were given HIM, LIM, or tap water (control) from gestational day (GD) 11 until birth; hereafter all rats received tap water. Mammary tumorigenesis was induced by administrating 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA) on postnatal day 50. No differences in maternal serum estradiol (P = 0.19) and IGF-1 levels (P = 0.15) at GD 19 or birth weight among the milk and water groups were seen, but estradiol, and IGF-1 levels and birth weight were numerically higher in the LIM group than in the HIM group. Puberty onset occurred earlier in the LIM offspring than in controls (P = 0.03). Although the high isoflavone content seemed to prevent the effect on circulating estradiol and IGF-1 levels and advanced puberty onset seen in the LIM group, HIM increased DMBA-DNA adducts in the mammary gland and tended to increase mammary tumorigenesis. In contrast, offspring exposed to LIM in utero, did not exhibit increased breast cancer risk, despite having higher estradiol and IGF-1 environment and consequently earlier puberty onset. These results indicate that the phytochemical content in the cow's milk, consumed by a pregnant dam, determines how milk affects the offspring.