To investigate whether a family history of breast cancer increases a woman's risk of developing breast cancer, we analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control's Cancer and Steroid Hormone Study. The 4,735 cases were women 20 to 54 years old with a first diagnosis of breast cancer ascertained from eight population-based cancer registries; the 4,688 controls were women selected at random from the general population of these eight areas. Compared with women without a family history of breast cancer, women who had an affected first-degree relative had a relative risk of 2.3; women with an affected second-degree relative had a relative risk of 1.5; and women with both an affected mother and sister had a relative risk of 14. The risk of breast cancer for a woman was higher if her first-degree relative had unilateral rather than bilateral breast cancer or had breast cancer detected at a younger rather than older age. For women aged 20 to 39, 40 to 44, and 45 to 54 years, the estimated annual incidence of breast cancer per 100,000 women attributable to a first-degree family history of breast cancer was 51.9, 115.1, and 138.6, respectively, and that attributable to a second-degree family history of breast cancer was 12.1, 19.2, and 92.4, respectively.