The breast cancer susceptibility genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, differ in their contribution to ovarian cancer. Recently, founder mutations in each of these genes were identified in Canadian breast cancer and breast-ovarian cancer families of French ancestry. We have examined the prevalence of the founder mutations in a series of 113 French Canadian women with ovarian cancer unselected for family history. Germline mutations were found in eight of 99 invasive carcinomas and in none of the 14 tumors of borderline malignancy. Five cases carried the BRCA1 C4446T mutation and two cases carried the BRCA2 8765delAG mutation which are the most common mutations that have been described in French Canadian breast cancer and breast-ovarian cancer families. All of these cases reported a family history of at least one first-degree relative with breast cancer, diagnosed below age 60 years, or with ovarian cancer. The identification of founder BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations in ovarian cancer cases unselected for family history can facilitate carrier detection when the expected yield of a comprehensive screen may be low.