Thirty-two African American nurses (AAN) and 78 Caucasian nurses (CN) were compared on breast self-examination (BSE) practice and health beliefs. Relationships between these variables were also examined. The Health Belief Model provided the framework for the study. The sample is a subset of 269 women from a larger study. AANs were recruited from a professional nurses’ group. CNs were recruited from a list of female employees of a university medical centre. The results of t-tests revealed no significant group differences on BSE frequency (P=0·06) or BSE proficiency (P=0·10). Noted was that 42% of AANs compared to 20% of CNs examined their breasts 12 or more times during the year. AANs were more likely to consider BSE beneficial (P=0·002) and to feel confident (P=0·006) about doing BSE; CNs perceived more barriers (P=0·001) to BSE. For AANs, BSE frequency and proficiency were positively related to confidence and inversely related to barriers; BSE frequency was also related to health motivation. For CNs, BSE frequency and proficiency were inversely related to seriousness. Implications include additional research to validate findings and to increase the knowledge base of all nurses regarding BSE.