While a range of miRNAs have been shown to be dysregulated in the circulation of patients with breast cancer, little is known about the relationship between circulating levels and tumour characteristics. The aim of this study was to analyse alterations in circulating miRNA expression during tumour progression in a murine model of breast cancer, and to detemine the clinical relevance of identified miRNAs at both tissue and circulating level in patient samples. Athymic nude mice received a subcutaneous or mammary fat pad injection of MDA-MB-231 cells. Blood sampling was performed at weeks 1, 3 and 6 following tumour induction, and microRNA extracted. MicroRNA microArray analysis was performed comparing samples harvested at week 1 to those collected at week 6 from the same animals. Significantly altered miRNAs were validated across all murine samples by RQ-PCR (n = 45). Three miRNAs of interest were then quantified in the circulation(n = 166) and tissue (n = 100) of breast cancer patients and healthy control individuals. MicroArray-based analysis of murine blood samples revealed levels of 77 circulating microRNAs to be changed during disease progression, with 44 demonstrating changes >2-fold. Validation across all samples revealed miR-138 to be significantly elevated in the circulation of animals during disease development, with miR-191 and miR-106a levels significantly decreased. Analysis of patient tissue and blood samples revealed miR-138 to be significantly up-regulated in the circulation of patients with breast cancer, with no change observed in the tissue setting. While not significantly changed overall in breast cancer patients compared to controls, circulating miR-106a and miR-191 were significantly decreased in patients with basal breast cancer. In tissue, both miRNAs were significantly elevated in breast cancer compared to normal breast tissue. The data demonstrates an impact of tumour epithelial subtype on circulating levels of miRNAs, and highlights divergent miRNA profiles between tissue and blood samples from breast cancer patients.