BRCA1 has significant roles in DNA repair and cell cycle checkpoint control, and is important in the maintenance of genomic stability. Defects in these pathways likely underpin the cancer susceptibility of BRCA1 mutation carriers. Now, a new function for BRCA1 in DNA decatenation--removing the tangles introduced into chromosomes as a consequence of DNA replication--is suggested in a new paper by Lou et al. (2005) in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. Ineffective DNA decatenation may lead to chromosome breakage and inappropriate repair, adding to the roll call of defects in BRCA1 mutant cells.