The C677T mutation in the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene is associated with reduced enzyme activity, hyperhomocysteinaemia and increased risk for atherosclerosis in homozygotes. We examined the frequency of this mutation and its association with disease pattern in 491 Jewish women with either sporadic (n = 355; 72%) or hereditary (n = 136; 28%) breast and/or ovarian cancer and in 69 asymptomatic BRCA1/2 mutation carriers, genotyped for the three predominant Jewish founder BRCA1/2 mutations (185delAG, 5382insC and 6174delT). 677T homozygotes were equally distributed among women with sporadic breast and/or ovarian cancer (71/355; 20.0%) and among BRCA1/2 mutation carriers (43/205; 21.0%) (P=non-significant). 677T homozygotes were equally distributed among women diagnosed with breast cancer prior to (22/122; 18.0%) and after 42 years of age (42/243; 17.3%). Among BRCA1/2 carriers, the rate of 677T homozygotes in manifesting cancer (32/136; 23.5%) and asymptomatic individuals (11/69; 15.9%) was not significantly different. The rate of 677T homozygotes (24/72; 33.3%) was higher (P=0.0026) among women with bilateral breast cancer and those with both breast and ovarian carcinoma than among those with unilateral breast cancer (64/365; 17.5%). Differences in morbidity (one versus multiple breast/ovarian tumours) are mainly attributed to 677T homozygosity and partly to BRCA1/2 mutations. Confirmation of these data, namely, that the 677T allele is significantly more common in cases of bilateral breast cancer or combined breast and ovarian cancer would have important clinical implications.