It has been estimated that the lifetime risk of breast cancer among women who inherit a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation is as high as 80%, and the risk estimates for ovarian cancer range from 15 to 40%. Several environmental and lifestyle factors are believed to contribute to the development of breast cancer in the general population and it is of interest to establish if these factors operate among mutation carriers as well. To evaluate the effects of age of menarche, parity, breast-feeding, oophorectomy and oral contraceptive use, as well as smoking and coffee consumption, on the risks of breast and ovarian cancer, we conducted a matched case-control study of Polish women with BRCA1 mutations. There were 348 breast cancer patients, 150 ovarian cancer patients and similar numbers of age-matched controls. BRCA1 carriers with late age of menarche, lower parity and long-term breast-feeding were less likely to develop breast cancer. Oral contraceptives protected against ovarian cancer.