BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations are responsible for most familial breast carcinomas. Recent reports carried out in non-cancerous mouse BRCA1- or BRCA2-deficient embryonic stem (ES) cells, and hamster BRCA2-deficient cells have demonstrated that the targeted inhibition of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP-1) kills BRCA mutant cells with high specificity. Although these studies bring hope for BRCA mutation carriers, the effectiveness of PARP-1 inhibitors for breast cancer remains elusive. Here we present the first in vivo demonstration of PARP-1 activity in BRCA1-deficient mammary tumors and describe the effects of PARP-1 inhibitors (AG14361, NU1025, and 3-aminobenzamide) on BRCA1-deficient ES cells, mouse and human breast cancer cells. AG14361 was highly selective for BRCA1-/- ES cells; however, NU1025 and 3-aminobenzamide were relatively non-selective. In allografts of naïve ES BRCA1-/- cells there was either partial or complete remission of tumors. However, in allografts of mouse, BRCA1-/- mammary tumors, there was no tumor regression or remission although a partial inhibition of tumor growth was observed in both the BRCA1-/- and BRCA1+/+ allografts. In human tumor cells, PARP-1 inhibitors showed no difference in vitro in limiting the growth of mammary tumors irrespective of their BRCA1 status. These results suggest that PARP-1 inhibitors may non-specifically inhibit the growth of mammary tumors.