The effectiveness of intensive surveillance in women at high risk for breast cancer due to a familial or genetic predisposition is uncertain and is currently being evaluated in a Dutch magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) screening (MRISC) study, in which annual imaging consists of mammography and MRI. Unfavourable side effects on health-related quality of life may arise from this screening process. We examined the short-term effects of screening for breast cancer in high-risk women on generic health-related quality of life and distress. A total of 519 participants in the MRISC study were asked to complete generic health-status questionnaires (SF-36, EQ-5D) as well as additional questionnaires for distress and items relating to breast cancer screening, at three different time points around screening. The study population showed significantly better generic health-related quality of life scores compared to age-/sex-adjusted reference scores from the general population. Neither generic health-related quality of life scores nor distress scores among the study sample (n=334) showed significant changes over time. The impact of the screening process on generic health status did not differ between risk categories. Relatively more women reported mammography as quite to very painful (30.1%) compared to MRI. Anxiety was experienced by 37% of the women undergoing MRI. We conclude that screening for breast cancer in high-risk women does not have an unfavourable impact on short-term generic health-related quality of life and general distress. In this study, high-risk women who opted for regular breast cancer screening had a better health status than women from the general population.