That the inheritance of mutations in tumor susceptibility genes alone cannot determine risk for developing cancer is now well accepted. Immune functions have long been recognized as one of the important risk modifying factors in this regard. In an attempt to develop a multiparametric approach to identify high risk individuals from cancer families, we have examined NK cell function in unaffected members from familial breast cancer families. We have also carried out a parallel study of T lymphocyte functions in these individuals. Our studies demonstrate a significantly lower NK cell activity in members from cancer families. T lymphocyte activity also showed a similar trend, with the unaffected members demonstrating a notably lowered T lymphocyte function. In addition the data from patients reveals differential sensitivity of NK and T lymphocyte function to the disease phenotype. Implications of these observation are discussed.