Adriamycin (ADR) is an important chemotherapeutic agent frequently used in treatment of breast cancer. However, resistance to ADR results in treatment failure in many patients. Recent studies have indicated that microRNAs (miRNAs) may play an important role in such drug-resistance. In the present study, microRNA-452 (miR-452) was found to be significantly down-regulated in adriamycin-resistant MCF-7 cells (MCF-7/ADR) compared with the parental MCF-7 cells by miRNA microarray and real-time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR). MiR-452 mimics and inhibitors partially changed the adriamycin-resistance of breast cancer cells, as also confirmed by apoptosis assay. In exploring the potential mechanisms of miR-452 in the adriamycin-resistance of breast cancer cells, bioinformatics analysis, RT-qPCR and Western blotting showed that dysregulation of miR-452 played an important role in the acquired adriamycin-resistance of breast cancer, maybe at least in part via targeting insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R).