The SWI/SNF complex is a chromatin-remodeling complex that uses the energy of ATP hydrolysis to modify chromatin structure in order to regulate gene expression. The SWI/SNF complex is evolutionarily conserved in all eukaryotes and is comprised of a catalytic subunit, either of BRG1 (also known as SMARCA4) or of BRM (also known as SMARCA2), and a variety of associated proteins that can modulate the recruitment of the complex and its activity. Key observations link the SWI/SNF complex with cancer. First, two of its subunits (SNF5 and BRG1) bear cancer-inactivating mutations and thus are bona fide tumor suppressors. The SNF5 gene is biallelically inactivated in malignant rhabdoid tumors (MRTs) whereas BRG1 is mutated in cancer cell lines of several types, such as those of the breast, prostate, lung, pancreas and colon. Second, mice heterozygous for mutations at Snf5 and Brg1 are cancer-prone, and, third, BRG1 binds or is related to important tumor-suppressor proteins. The present review focuses on the biological function and genetics of BRG1, particularly with respect to its role as a tumor suppressor.