The population of Pakistan has been reported to have the highest rate of breast cancer of any Asian population (excluding Jews in Israel) and one of the highest rates of ovarian cancer worldwide. To explore the contribution that genetic factors make to these high rates, we have conducted a case-control study of 341 case subjects with breast cancer, 120 case subjects with ovarian cancer, and 200 female control subjects from two major cities of Pakistan (Karachi and Lahore). The prevalence of BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations among case subjects with breast cancer was 6.7% (95% confidence interval [CI] 4.1%-9.4%), and that among case subjects with ovarian cancer was 15.8% (95% CI 9.2%-22.4%). Mutations of the BRCA1 gene accounted for 84% of the mutations among case subjects with ovarian cancer and 65% of mutations among case subjects with breast cancer. The majority of detected mutations are unique to Pakistan. Five BRCA1 mutations (2080insA, 3889delAG, 4184del4, 4284delAG, and IVS14-1A-->G) and one BRCA2 mutation (3337C-->T) were found in multiple case subjects and represent candidate founder mutations. The penetrance of deleterious mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 is comparable to that of Western populations. The cumulative risk of cancer to age 85 years in female first-degree relatives of BRCA1-mutation-positive case subjects was 48% and was 37% for first-degree relatives of the BRCA2-mutation-positive case subjects. A higher proportion of case subjects with breast cancer than of control subjects were the progeny of first-cousin marriages (odds ratio [OR] 2.1; 95% CI 1.4-3.3; P=.001). The effects of consanguinity were significant for case subjects with early-onset breast cancer (age <40 years) (OR=2.7; 95% CI 1.5-4.9; P=.0008) and case subjects with ovarian cancer (OR=2.4; 95% CI 1.4-4.2; P=.002). These results suggest that recessively inherited genes may contribute to breast and ovarian cancer risk in Pakistan.