BACKGROUND: Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) of the folate-metabolizing enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) may modify associations between folate intake and breast cancer. We examined if the association between tertiles of dietary folate equivalents (DFE) and breast cancer was different in subgroups according to genotypes of the MTHFR 677 C>T (rs1801133) and 1298A>C (rs1801131) SNPs and if the polymorphisms per se were associated with breast cancer. METHODS: This nested case-control study included 544 incident cases with invasive breast cancer and 1,088 controls matched on age and blood sampling date from the population-based Malmö Diet and Cancer cohort. Genotyping of the MTHFR SNPs was done with PCR-based matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Odds ratios (OR) were obtained by unconditional logistic regression. RESULTS: DFE was positively associated with breast cancer in MTHFR 677CT/TT-1298AA women (P for trend = 0.01) but inversely associated in compound heterozygous women (P for trend = 0.01). Interaction was observed between DFE and the 1298C allele (P = 0.03). The 677T allele was associated with increased breast cancer risk in women above 55 years [multivariate adjusted OR, 1.34; 95% confidence interval (95% CI), 1.01-1.76] and an interaction was observed between the T allele and age (P = 0.03). Homozygosis for the 1298C allele was associated with increased risk in women between 45 and 55 years (multivariate adjusted OR, 1.89; 95% CI, 1.09-3.29). CONCLUSION: In conclusion, a positive association between DFE and breast cancer was observed in MTHFR 677CT/TT-1298AA women but an inverse association was observed in 677CT-1298AC women. The 677T allele was associated with higher breast cancer risk in women above 55 years of age.