In lower eukaryotes, Sir2 serves as a histone deacetylase and is implicated in chromatin silencing, longevity, and genome stability. Here we mutated the Sirt1 gene, a homolog of yeast Sir2, in mice to study its function. We show that a majority of SIRT1 null embryos die between E9.5 and E14.5, displaying altered histone modification, impaired DNA damage response, and reduced ability to repair DNA damage. We demonstrate that Sirt1+/-;p53+/- mice develop tumors in multiple tissues, whereas activation of SIRT1 by resveratrol treatment reduces tumorigenesis. Finally, we show that many human cancers exhibit reduced levels of SIRT1 compared to normal controls. Thus, SIRT1 may act as a tumor suppressor through its role in DNA damage response and genome integrity.