DNA damage activates the G2 cell cycle checkpoint to allow time for DNA repair before mitotic entry. The mechanism involves inhibition of the enzymatic activity for polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1), rendering Cdc25C with a basal phosphatase activity that is insufficient for converting Cdc2 to the fully active G2/M transition kinase. We found that cell cycle arrest at the G2/M boundary after ionizing radiation (IR) of breast carcinoma cells may involve repression of the gene for Plk1, PLK, mediated by the tumor-suppressor protein BRCA1. The p53-defective MT-1 cell line had an apparent accumulation of G2/M phase cells 12 h after irradiation. This response was preceded by a transient downregulation of PLK mRNA expression with a barely detectable level 6 h after exposure to IR but recovered after 12 h. A significantly lower fraction of irradiated BRCA1(-/-) HCC1937 cells arrested in the G2/M phase after 12 h, and the transient response of PLK mRNA was also considerably impaired. After reconstitution of wild-type BRCA1 in the HCC1937 cells however, downregulation of PLK mRNA as well as Plk1 protein expression after IR was restored. Moreover, the suppression of PLK mRNA expression 6 h after irradiation was completely abolished by the specific CHEK1 kinase inhibitor UCN-01, further indicating that the effector mechanism of DNA damage on PLK signals through BRCA1 and its downstream CHEK1. Our observations provide new information about the diversity of regulatory mechanisms governed by BRCA1 in DNA damage checkpoint control.