Breast cancer stem-like cells (CSCs) are an important therapeutic target as they are purported to be responsible for tumor initiation, maintenance, metastases, and disease recurrence. Interleukin-8 (IL-8) is upregulated in breast cancer compared with normal breast tissue and is associated with poor prognosis. IL-8 is reported to promote breast cancer progression by increasing cell invasion, angiogenesis, and metastases and is upregulated in HER2-positive cancers. Recently, we and others have established that IL-8 via its cognate receptors, CXCR1 and CXCR2, is also involved in regulating breast CSC activity. Our work demonstrates that in metastatic breast CSCs, CXCR1/2 signals via transactivation of HER2. Given the importance of HER2 in breast cancer and in regulating CSC activity, a pathway driving the activation of these receptors would have important biological and clinical consequences, especially in tumors that express high levels of IL-8 and other CXCR1/2-activating ligands. Here, we review the IL-8 signaling pathway and the role of HER2 in maintaining an IL-8 inflammatory loop and discuss the potential of combining CXCR1/2 inhibitors with other treatments such as HER2-targeted therapy as a novel approach to eliminate CSCs and improve patient survival. © 2013 BioMed Central Ltd.