ARTICLE ABSTRACTLow-penetrance alleles associated with breast cancer risk have been identified in population-based studies. Most risk loci contain either no or multiple potential candidate genes. Rat mammary carcinoma susceptibility 1b (Mcs1b) is a quantitative trait locus on RN02 that confers decreased susceptibility when Copenhagen (COP)-resistant alleles are introgressed into a Wistar Furth (WF)-susceptible genome. Five WF.COP congenic lines containing COP RN02 segments were compared. One line developed an average of 3.4 ± 2.0 and 5.5 ± 3.6 mammary carcinomas per rat ± SD when females were Mcs1b-resistant homozygous and Mcs1b heterozygous, respectively. These phenotypes were significantly different from susceptible genotype littermates (7.8 ± 3.1 mean mammary carcinomas per rat ± SD, P = 0.0001 and P = 0.0413, respectively). All other congenic lines tested were susceptible. Thus, Mcs1b was narrowed to 1.8 Mb of RN02 between genetic markers ENSRNOSNP2740854 and g2UL2-27. Mammary gland-graft carcinoma susceptibility assays were used to determine that donor (P = 0.0019), but not recipient Mcs1b genotype (P = 0.9381), was associated with ectopic mammary carcinoma outcome. Rat Mcs1b contains sequence orthologous to human 5q11.2, a breast cancer susceptibility locus identified in multiple genome-wide association studies. Human/rat MAP3K1/Map3k1 and mesoderm induction early response (MIER; MIER3)/MIER3 are within these orthologous segments. We identified MIER3 as a candidate Mcs1b gene based on 4.5-fold higher mammary gland levels of MIER3 transcripts in susceptible compared with Mcs1b-resistant females. These data suggest that the human 5q11.2 breast cancer risk allele marked by rs889312 is mammary gland autonomous, and MIER3 is a candidate breast cancer susceptibility gene. Cancer Res; 72(22); 6002–12. ©2012 AACR.