In this paper a new genetic algorithm called the Breeder Genetic Algorithm (BGA) is introduced. The BGA is based on artificial selection similar to that used by human breeders. A predictive model for the BGA is presented that is derived from quantitative genetics. The model is used to predict the behavior of the BGA for simple test functions. Different mutation schemes are compared by computing the expected progress to the solution. The numerical performance of the BGA is demonstrated on a test suite of multimodal functions. The number of function evaluations needed to locate the optimum scales only as n ln(n) where n is the number of parameters. Results up to n = 1000 are reported.