Studies of families who segregate BRCA2 mutations have found that men who carry disease-associated mutations have an increased risk of prostate cancer, particularly early-onset disease. A study of sporadic prostate cancer in the UK reported a prevalence of 2.3% for protein-truncating BRCA2 mutations among patients diagnosed at ages < or =55 years, highlighting the potential importance of this gene in prostate cancer susceptibility. To examine the role of protein-truncating BRCA2 mutations in relation to early-onset prostate cancer in a US population, 290 population-based patients from King County, Washington, diagnosed at ages <55 years were screened for germline BRCA2 mutations. The coding regions, intron-exon boundaries, and potential regulatory elements of the BRCA2 gene were sequenced. Two distinct protein-truncating BRCA2 mutations were identified in exon 11 in two patients. Both cases were Caucasian, yielding a mutation prevalence of 0.78% (95% confidence interval (95%CI) 0.09-2.81%) and a relative risk (RR) of 7.8 (95%CI 1.8-9.4) for early-onset prostate cancer in white men carrying a protein-truncating BRCA2 mutation. Results suggest that protein-truncating BRCA2 mutations confer an elevated RR of early-onset prostate cancer. However, we estimate that <1% of early-onset prostate cancers in the general US Caucasian population can be attributed to these rare disease-associated BRCA2 mutations.