The protein MDC1/NFBD1 contains a forkhead-associated (FHA) domain and two BRCA1 carboxyl-terminal (BRCT) domains. It interacts with several proteins involved in DNA damage repair and checkpoint signalling, and is phosphorylated in response to DNA damage and during mitosis. Upon treatment of cultured human cells with DNA damaging agents, MDC1/NFBD1 translocates to sites of DNA lesions, where it collaborates with other proteins and with phosphorylated histone H2AX to mediate the accumulation of checkpoint and repair factors into nuclear foci. Down-regulation of MDC1/NFBD1 expression levels by small interfering RNA (siRNA) renders cells hyper-sensitive to DNA damaging agents and leads to defects in cell cycle checkpoint activation and apoptosis. Thus, MDC1/NFBD1 appears to be a key regulator of the DNA damage response in mammalian cells.