Gene-environment interactions are hypothesized to be major contributors to susceptibility to environmental carcinogens and interindividual variability in cancer risk. We present findings on associations between genetic susceptibility due to inherited polymorphisms of the Phase II detoxification enzyme sulfotransferase 1A1 (SULT1A1), breast cancer risk, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)-DNA adducts. A hospital based case-control study was conducted at the New York-Presbyterian Medical Center (NYPMC). The study utilized two control groups: one comprised of women with benign breast disease (BBD) and the other comprised of women visiting NYPMC for routine gynecologic checkups (healthy controls). Blood samples were collected from cases and controls; and breast tissue from pathology blocks was collected from cases (tumor and non-tumor tissue) and BBD controls (benign tissue). PAH-DNA adduct levels were measured by immunohistochemistry in breast tissue samples, and the SULT1A1 (Arg/His) polymorphism at codon 213 was determined by PCR RFLP analyses using DNA from white blood cells. Increasing number of His alleles was modestly associated with breast cancer case-control status, when cases were compared to healthy controls (p for trend = 0.08), when cases were compared to BBD controls (p for trend = 0.08) and when cases were compared to both control groups combined (p for trend = 0.07). Contrary to our hypothesis PAH-DNA adduct levels in breast tissue were not associated with SULT1A1 genotype. Our findings are consistent with a prior report that the Arg/His polymorphism in SULT1A1 is associated with breast cancer risk.