BRCA1 (breast-cancer susceptibility gene 1) is a tumour suppressor, implicated in the hereditary predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer. BRCA1 has been implicated in a number of cellular processes including DNA repair and recombination, cell cycle checkpoint control, chromatin remodelling and ubiquitination. In addition, substantial data now exist to suggest a role for BRCA1 in transcriptional regulation; BRCA1 has been shown to interact with the Pol II holoenzyme complex and to interact with multiple transcription factors, such as p53 and c-Myc. We have previously identified a range of BRCA1 transcriptional targets and have linked these to specific cellular pathways, including cell cycle checkpoint activation and apoptosis. Current research is focused on the transcriptional mechanisms that underpin the association of BRCA1 deficiency with increased sensitivity to DNA damage-based chemotherapy and resistance to spindle poisons.