There is conflicting epidemiological evidence on the role of folate and breast cancer risk. We conducted a systematic review and quantitative meta-analysis of folate intake and folate blood levels and the risk of breast cancer. Four electronic databases (Medline, PubMed, Embase, and Current Contents Connect) were searched to April 11, 2014, with no language restrictions for observational studies that measured folate intake or blood levels and the risk of breast cancer. The meta-analysis of dietary folate intake comprising 36 studies with 34,602 cases, and a total sample size of 608,265 showed a decreased risk of breast cancer, with an odds ratio (OR) of 0.84 [95 % confidence interval (CI) 0.77-0.91]. When stratified by menopausal status and by study design, none of the meta-analyses of prospective studies showed any statistically significant decrease in the risk of breast cancer. The meta-analysis of total folate showed no statistically significant association with breast cancer OR of 0.98 (95 % CI 0.91-1.07). There was no significant association between either dietary or total folate intake and breast cancer when stratified by hormonal receptor status. The meta-analysis of blood folate levels found no significant association with the risk of breast cancer, with an OR of 0.86 (95 % CI 0.60-1.25). Breast cancer does not appear to be associated with folate intake, and this did not vary by menopausal status or hormonal receptor status. Folate blood levels also do not appear to be associated with breast cancer risk.