BRCA1/BRCA2 germline mutations substantially increase breast and ovarian cancer risk, yet penetrance is incomplete. We hypothesized that germline epigenetic gene silencing may affect mutant BRCA1/2 penetrance. To test this notion, we determined the methylation status, using methylation-specific quantitative PCR of the promoter in putative modifier genes: BRCA1, BRCA2, ATM, ATR and P53 in Jewish BRCA1/BRCA2 mutation carriers with (n = 41) or without (n = 48) breast cancer, in sporadic breast cancer (n = 52), and healthy controls (n = 89). Promoter hypermethylation was detected only in the BRCA1 promotor in 5.6-7.3% in each of the four subsets of participants, regardless of health and BRCA1/2 status.Germline promoter hypermethylation in the BRCA1 gene can be detected in about 5% of the female Israeli Jewish population, regardless of the BRCA1/2 status. The significance of this observation is yet to be determined.