The product of the Brca1 tumor-suppressor gene is involved in multiple aspects of the cellular DNA damage response (DDR), including activation of cell-cycle arrests and DNA double-stranded break (DSB) repair by homologous recombination. Prior reports demonstrated that BRCA1 recruitment to areas of DNA breakage depended on RAP80 and the RNF8/RNF168 E3 ubiquitin ligases. Here, we extend these findings by showing that RAP80 is only required for the binding of BRCA1 to regions flanking the DSB, whereas BRCA1 binding directly to DNA breaks requires Nijmegen breakage syndrome 1 (NBS1). These differential recruitment mechanisms differentially affect BRCA1 functions: (i) RAP80-dependent recruitment of BRCA1 to chromatin flanking DNA breaks is required for BRCA1 phosphorylation at serine 1387 and 1423 by ATM and, consequently, for the activation of S and G2 checkpoints; and (ii) BRCA1 interaction with NBS1 upon DSB induction results in an NBS1-dependent recruitment of BRCA1 directly to the DNA break and is required for nonhomologous end-joining repair. Together, these findings illustrate that spatially distinct fractions of BRCA1 exist at the DSB site, which are recruited by different mechanisms and execute different functions in the DDR.