The human Rad51 gene, HsRAD51, is a homolog of RecA of Escherichia coli and functions in recombination and DNA repair. BRCA1 and BRCA2 proteins form a complex with Rad51, and these genes are thought to participate in a common DNA damage response pathway associated with the activation of homologous recombination and double-strand break repair. Additionally, we have shown that the pattern of northern blot analysis of the RadS gene is closely similar to those of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. It is therefore possible that alterations of the Rad51 gene may be involved in the development of hereditary breast cancer. To investigate this possibility, we screened Japanese patients with hereditary breast cancer for Rad51 mutations and found a single alteration in exon 6. This was determined to be present in the germline in two patients with bilateral breast cancer, one with synchronous bilateral breast cancer and the other with synchronous bilateral multiple breast cancer. In both patients, blood DNAs showed a G-to-A transition in the second nucleotide of codon 150, which results in the substitution of glutamine for arginine. As this alteration was not present in any patients with breast or colon cancer examined, we assume that this missense alteration is likely to be a disease-causing mutation.