These cancer genetic counseling recommendations describe the medical, psychosocial and ethical implications of identifying at-risk individuals for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) through cancer risk assessment, with or without genetic susceptibility testing. They were developed by members of the Practice Issues Subcommittee of the National Society of Genetic Counselors' Familial Cancer Risk Counseling Special Interest Group. The information contained in this document is derived from extensive review of the current literature on cancer genetic risk assessment as well as the professional expertise of genetic counselors with significant experience in education and counseling regarding hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Critical components of the process include the ascertainment of medical and family histories, determination and communication of cancer risk, assessment of risk perception, education regarding the genetics of HBOC, discussion of molecular testing for HBOC if appropriate (including benefits, risks and limitations) and any necessary follow-up. These recommendations do not dictate an exclusive course of management or guarantee a specific outcome. Moreover, they do not replace the professional judgment of a health care provider based on the clinical situation of a client.