Experimental data suggest a protective effect of vitamin D on breast cancer; however, epidemiologic results remain inclusive. With a Chinese population-based case-control study and meta-analysis of the observational studies, we here systematically evaluated the association of blood 25(OH)D level and breast cancer risk. With 593 breast cancer cases and 580 cancer-free controls from Shanghai, China, we found that 80% of the normal women had severe vitamin D deficiency (less than 20 ng/mL) and 15.2% had mild deficiency (20 to 30 ng/mL) and only 4.8% of women had sufficient vitamin D level (>30 ng/mL) while the proportion was 96.1%, 3.2% and 0.7% respectively for the breast cancer patients. Compared to those with the lowest quartile of plasma 25(OH)D level, women with highest quartile 25(OH)D level showed a significant decreased breast cancer risk (Q4 vs.Q1: OR = 0.10, 95% CI = 0.06-0.15) and every 1 ng/ml increment of plasma 25(OH)D level led to a 16% lower odds of breast cancer (OR = 0.84, 95% CI = 0.81-0.87; P<0.001). From the meta-analysis of the observational studies, we found that women with highest quantile of blood 25(OH)D level was associated with a significantly reduced breast cancer risk compared to those with lowest quantile of blood 25(OH)D level for the 11 nested case-control and retrospective studies (pooled OR = 0.86, 95% CI = 0.75-1.00) and 10 case-control studies (7 population based, OR = 0.35, 95% CI = 0.24-0.52; 3 hospital based, OR = 0.08, 95% CI = 0.02-0.33). These results suggest that vitamin D may have a chemo-preventive effect against breast cancer.