ARTICLE ABSTRACTThe development of efficacious therapies targeting metastatic spread of breast cancer to the brain represents an unmet clinical need. Accordingly, an improved understanding of the molecular underpinnings of central nervous system spread and progression of breast cancer brain metastases (BCBM) is required. In this study, the clinical burden of disease in BCBM was investigated, as well as the role of aldehyde dehydrogenase 1A3 (ALDH1A3) in the metastatic cascade leading to BCBM development. Initial analysis of clinical survival trends for breast cancer and BCBM determined improvement of breast cancer survival rates; however, this has failed to positively affect the prognostic milestones of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) brain metastases (BM). ALDH1A3 and a representative epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) gene signature (mesenchymal markers, CD44 or Vimentin) were compared in tumors derived from BM, lung metastases (LM), or bone metastases (BoM) of patients as well as mice after injection of TNBC cells. Selective elevation of the EMT signature and ALDH1A3 were observed in BM, unlike LM and BoM, especially in the tumor edge. Furthermore, ALDH1A3 was determined to play a role in BCBM establishment via regulation of circulating tumor cell adhesion and migration phases in the BCBM cascade. Validation through genetic and pharmacologic inhibition of ALDH1A3 via lentiviral shRNA knockdown and a novel small-molecule inhibitor demonstrated selective inhibition of BCBM formation with prolonged survival of tumor-bearing mice. Given the survival benefits via targeting ALDH1A3, it may prove an effective therapeutic strategy for BCBM prevention and/or treatment.