To have an overview of the role of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes among Chinese high-risk breast cancer patients, we analyzed 489 such high-risk breast cancer patients from four breast disease clinical centers in China, by using PCR-DHPLC or SSCP-DNA sequencing analysis. Allelotype analysis was done at five short tandem repeat (STR) markers in or adjacent to BRCA1 on the recurrent mutation carriers. For those analyzed both genes, 8.7% of early-onset breast cancer cases and 12.9% of familial breast cancer cases had a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, as compared with the 26.1% of cases with both early-onset breast cancer and affected relatives. For those reporting malignancy family history other than breast/ovarian cancer, the prevalence of BRCA1/2 mutation is about 20.5%, and it was significantly higher than the patients only with family history of breast/ovarian cancer (P = 0.02). The family history of ovarian cancer (26.7% vs. 11.9%) and stomach cancer (23.8% vs. 11.8%) doubled the incidence of BRCA1/2, but the difference did not reach the statistical significance. Two recurrent mutations in BRCA1, 1100delAT and 5589del8, were identified. The recurrent mutations account for 34.8% BRCA1 mutations in our series. Similar allelotypes were detected in most STR status for those harboring the same mutations. The BRCA1 associated tumors were more likely to exhibit a high tumor grade, negative C-erbB-2/neu status and triple negative (ER, PgR and C-erbB-2/neu negative) status (P < 0.05). We recommended the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic analysis could be done for high-risk breast cancer patient in Chinese population, especially for those with both early-onset breast cancer and affected relatives. There may be some degree of shared ancestry for the two recurrent BRCA1 mutations in Chinese.