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This exploratory study investigates the experience of partners of women at high risk of developing breast/ovarian cancer and reports on the partners' views concerning their relationship, communication, future planning, children and childbearing, involvement in decision-making regarding screening and prophylactic measures, and information and support needs. In-depth interviews were conducted with 15 partners. Of these, seven were partners of women who were BRCA1/2 mutation carriers, five were partners of women with unknown mutation status, and three were partners of women who were non-carriers. None of the women had a previous diagnosis of breast or ovarian cancer. Partners of carriers and women with unknown mutation status were found to be more distressed than partners of non-carriers, with partners of mutation carriers reporting the most difficulties. Factors associated with better adjustment and coping for partners included dealing with this situation as a team with their wife, greater involvement in decision-making, satisfaction with their supportive roles and being optimistic. Decision-making difficulties in relation to prophylactic measures, concerns about their children possibly being at increased cancer risk, as well as the need to receive information directly from health professionals and the wish to meet other partners were also discussed. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.