Cre-mediated excision of exon 11 of the breast-tumour suppressor gene Brca1 in mouse mammary epithelial cells causes increased apoptosis and abnormal ductal development. Mammary tumour formation occurs after long latency and is associated with genetic instability characterized by aneuploidy, chromosomal rearrangements or alteration of Trp53 (encoding p53) transcription. To directly test the role of p53 in Brca1-associated tumorigenesis, we introduced a Trp53-null allele into mice with mammary epithelium-specific inactivation of Brca1. The loss of p53 accelerated the formation of mammary tumours in these females. Our results demonstrate that disruption of Brca1 causes genetic instability and triggers further alterations, including the inactivation of p53, that lead to tumour formation.