Breast cancer is the leading site of new cancers in women and the second leading cause (after lung cancer) of cancer mortality in women. Observational studies that have collected data for dietary exposure to alpha-tocopherol with or without the other related tocopherols and tocotrienols have suggested that vitamin E from dietary sources may provide women with modest protection from breast cancer. However, there is no evidence that vitamin E supplements confer any protection whatever against breast cancer. Observational studies that have assessed exposure to vitamin E by plasma or adipose tissue concentrations of alpha-tocopherol have failed to provide consistent support for the idea that alpha-tocopherol provides any protection against breast cancer. In addition, evidence from studies in experimental animals suggest that alpha-tocopherol supplementation alone has little effect on mammary tumors. In contrast, studies in breast cancer cells indicate that alpha- gamma-, and delta-tocotrienol, and to a lesser extent delta-tocopherol, have potent antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects that would be expected to reduce risk of breast cancer. Many vegetable sources of alpha-tocopherol also contain other tocopherols or tocotrienols. Thus, it seems plausible that the modest protection from breast cancer associated with dietary vitamin E may be due to the effects of the other tocopherols and the tocotrienols in the diet. Additional studies will be required to determine whether this may be the case, and to identify the most active tocopherol/tocotrienol.