The ATM gene is mutated in ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T), a genetic instability syndrome characterized by increased cancer risk, as well as other features. Recent studies have shown that the ATM protein kinase plays a critical role in maintaining genome integrity by activating a biochemical chain reaction that in turn leads to cell cycle checkpoint activation and repair of DNA damage. ATM targets include well-known tumor suppressor genes such as p53 and BRCA1, both of which play an important role in predisposition to breast cancer. Studies of A-T families have consistently reported an increased risk of breast cancer in women with one mutated ATM gene, but so far an increased frequency of ATM mutations has not been found in women with breast cancer. Some specific missense and protein truncating variants of ATM have been reported to confer increased breast cancer risk, but the magnitude of this risk remains uncertain. A more comprehensive analysis of ATM is needed in large case-control studies, and in multiple-case breast cancer families.