Shear wave elastography (SWE) shows promise as an adjunct to greyscale ultrasound examination in assessing breast masses. In breast cancer, higher lesion stiffness on SWE has been shown to be associated with features of poor prognosis. The purpose of this study was to assess whether lesion stiffness at SWE is an independent predictor of lymph node involvement. Patients with invasive breast cancer treated by primary surgery, who had undergone SWE examination were eligible. Data were retrospectively analysed from 396 consecutive patients. The mean stiffness values were obtained using the Aixplorer(®) ultrasound machine from SuperSonic Imagine Ltd. Measurements were taken from a region of interest positioned over the stiffest part of the abnormality. The average of the mean stiffness value obtained from each of two orthogonal image planes was used for analysis. Associations between lymph node involvement and mean lesion stiffness, invasive cancer size, histologic grade, tumour type, ER expression, HER-2 status and vascular invasion were assessed using univariate and multivariate logistic regression. At univariate analysis, invasive size, histologic grade, HER-2 status, vascular invasion, tumour type and mean stiffness were significantly associated with nodal involvement. Nodal involvement rates ranged from 7 % for tumours with mean stiffness 150 kPa. At multivariate analysis, invasive size, tumour type, vascular invasion, and mean stiffness maintained independent significance. Mean stiffness at SWE is an independent predictor of lymph node metastasis and thus can confer prognostic information additional to that provided by conventional preoperative tumour assessment and staging.