Introduction: Impaired DNA damage response (DDR) and subsequent genomic instability are associated with the carcinogenic process itself, but it also results in sensitivity of tumor cells to certain drugs and can be exploited to treat cancer by inducing deadly mutations or mitotic catastrophe. Exploiting DDR defects in breast cancer cells has been one of the main strategies in both conventional chemotherapy, targeted therapies, or immunotherapies. Areas covered: In this review, the authors first discuss DDR mechanisms in healthy cells and DDR defects in breast cancer, then focus on current therapies and developments in the treatment of DDR-deficient breast cancer. Expert opinion: Among conventional chemotherapeutics, platinum-based regimens, in particular, seem to be effective in DDR-deficient patients. PARP inhibitors represent one of the successful models of translational research in this area and clinical data showed high efficacy and reasonable toxicity with these agents in patients with breast cancer and BRCA mutation. Recent studies have underlined that some subtypes of breast cancer are highly immunogenic. Promising activity has been shown with immunotherapeutic agents, particularly in DDR-deficient breast cancers. Chemotherapeutics, DNA-repair pathway inhibitors, and immunotherapies might result in further improved outcomes in certain subsets of patients with breast cancer and DDR.