Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitor (PARPi) olaparib has been approved for treatment of advanced ovarian cancer associated with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. BRCA1- and BRCA2-mutated cells, which are homologous recombination (HR) deficient, are hypersensitive to PARPi through the mechanism of synthetic lethality. Here we examine the effect of PARPi on HR-proficient cells. Olaparib pretreatment, PARP1 knockdown or Parp1 heterozygosity of Brca2cko/ko mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs), carrying a null (ko) and a conditional (cko) allele of Brca2, results in viable Brca2ko/ko cells. PARP1 deficiency does not restore HR in Brca2ko/ko cells, but protects stalled replication forks from MRE11-mediated degradation through its impaired recruitment. The functional consequence of Parp1 heterozygosity on BRCA2 loss is demonstrated by a significant increase in tumorigenesis in Brca2cko/cko mice. Thus, while olaparib efficiently kills BRCA2-deficient cells, we demonstrate that it can also contribute to the synthetic viability if PARP is inhibited before BRCA2 loss.