Individuals carrying BRCA mutations are predisposed to breast cancer. The BRCA1 and BRCA2 proteins are required for homologous recombination and DNA break repair, leading to the suggestion that they act in concert. However, direct evidence of a stable BRCA1/BRCA2 complex has not been demonstrated. Rather, the two proteins have been found as constituents of discrete, but perhaps nonexclusive complexes that are critical for repair. We discuss the interaction of BRCA1 with the BACH1 and BARD1 proteins, and suggest that the pleiotropic nature of mutations in BRCA1 may be associated with defects in protein--protein interactions. In contrast, the role of BRCA2 in DNA repair may be more defined by its direct interaction with the RAD51 recombinase.