Utilizing the concept of synthetic lethality has provided new opportunities for the development of targeted therapies, by allowing the targeting of loss of function genetic aberrations. In cancer cells with BRCA1 or BRCA2 loss of function, which harbor deficiency of DNA repair by homologous recombination, inhibition of PARP1 enzymatic activity leads to an accumulation of single strand breaks that are converted to double strand breaks but cannot be repaired by homologous recombination. Inhibition of PARP has therefore been advanced as a novel targeted therapy for cancers harboring BRCA1/2 mutations. Preclinical and preliminary clinical evidence, however, suggests a potentially broader scope for PARP inhibitors. Loss of function of various proteins involved in double strand break repair other than BRCA1/2 has been suggested to be synthetically lethal with PARP inhibition. Inactivation of these genes has been reported in a subset of human cancers and might therefore constitute predictive biomarkers for PARP inhibition. Here we discuss the evidence that the clinical use of PARP inhibition may be broader than targeting of cancers in BRCA1/2 germ-line mutation carriers.