Recently, BRCA1, a familial breast and ovarian cancer susceptible gene has been cloned and shown to be either lost or mutated in families with breast and ovarian cancers. BRCA1 has been postulated to encode a tumor suppressor, a protein that acts as a negative regulator of tumor growth. We have characterized the BRCA1 gene products by Western blot and immunoprecipitation analysis in mouse and tumor cells. Multiple BRCA1 polypeptides of approximately 225, 185, 160, 145, 100, 52 and 38 kD were identified in these cells. BRCA1 proteins were found to be localized mainly in the nucleus of normal Rat1 cells and human breast cancer cells. In order to understand the role of BRCA1 in cell transformation, we have established a stable NIH3T3 cell line expressing BRCA1 antisense RNA. The inhibition of expression of endogenous BRCA1 protein was detected in NIH3T3 transfectants by Western blot analysis. The antisense BRCA1 expressing NIH3T3 cells showed accelerated growth rate, anchorage independent growth and tumorigenicity in nude mice unlike the parental and sense transfectants. These results provide the first direct biological evidence for the possible function of BRCA1 as a tumor suppressor gene.