Women's understanding of familial aspects of breast cancer was examined using both focus groups and interviews. The studies covered issues related to perceptions of breast cancer risk factors, perceived breast cancer risk, understanding of risk information, and family history of breast cancer as a risk factor. Study 1 consisted of four focus group discussions with women from the general community. Study 2 comprised ten face-to-face interviews with women who had a family history of breast cancer. The results in combination indicate a fairly high level of awareness of family history as a risk factor for breast cancer. However, the definition of a familial history of breast cancer differed between the groups, with those without a family history being more inclusive than those with such a history. The paper concludes with suggestions for use by those developing resources materials for those with a familial history of breast cancer.