The chromosomal radiosensitivity of breast cancer patients with a known or putative genetic predisposition was investigated and compared to a group of healthy women. The chromosomal radiosensitivity was assessed with the G2 and the G0-micronucleus assay. For the G2 assay lymphocytes were irradiated in vitro with a dose of 0.4 Gy 60Co γ-rays after 71 h incubation, and chromatid breaks were scored in 50 metaphases. For the micronucleus assay lymphocytes were exposed in vitro to 3.5 Gy 60Co γ-rays at a high dose rate or low dose rate. 70 h post-irradiation cultures were arrested and micronuclei were scored in 1000 binucleate cells. The results demonstrated that the group of breast cancer patients with a known or putative genetic predisposition was on the average more radiosensitive than a population of healthy women, and this with the G2 as well as with the high dose rate and low dose rate micronucleus assay. With the G2 assay 43% of the patients were found to be radiosensitive. A higher proportion of the patients were radiosensitive with the micronucleus assay (45% with high dose rate and 61% with low dose rate), No correlation was found between the G2 and the G0-micronucleus chromosomal radiosensitivity. Out of the different subgroups considered, the group of the young breast cancer patients without family history showed the highest percentage of radiosensitive cases in the G2 (50%) as well as in the micronucleus assay (75-78%). © 2002 Cancer Research UK.