There is now evidence to suggest that BRCA1 and BRCA2 are involved in the response of cells to DNA damage and cell cycle checkpoint control. This report examines the death pathways of human cells with various BRCA1 and BRCA2 genotypes after exposure to gamma-rays. A lack of functional BRCA1 and BRCA2 led to defective repair of DNA double-strand breaks in irradiated cells. This impairment resulted in a relaxation of cell cycle checkpoints, production of micronuclei, and a loss of proliferative capacity. Heterozygous BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations also led to enhanced radiosensitivity, with an impaired proliferative capacity after irradiation. The existence of a phenotype related to radiosensitivity in BRCA1+/- and BRCA2+/- cells raises the question of the response of heterozygous women to radiation.