Triple-negative breast cancer is associated with early recurrence and low survival rates. Several trials investigate the safety of a more conservative approach of axillary treatment in clinically T1-2N0 breast cancer. Triple-negative breast cancer comprises only 15 % of newly diagnosed breast cancers, which might result in insufficient power for representative results for this subgroup. We aimed to provide a nationwide overview on the occurrence of (regional) recurrences in triple-negative breast cancer patients with a clinically T1-2N0 status. For this cohort study, 2548 women diagnosed between 2005 and 2008 with clinically T1-2N0 triple-negative breast cancer were selected from the Netherlands Cancer Registry. Follow-up data until 2014 were analyzed using Kaplan–Meier. Sentinel lymph node biopsy was performed in 2486 patients, and (completion) axillary lymph node dissection in 562 patients. Final pathologic nodal status was pN0 in 78.5 %, pN1mi in 4.5 %, pN1 in 12.3 %, pN2–3 in 3.6 %, and pNx in 1.1 %. During a follow-up of 5 years, regional recurrence occurred in 2.9 %, local recurrence in 4.2 % and distant recurrence in 12.2 %. Five-year disease-free survival was 78.7 %, distant disease-free survival 80.5 %, and 5-year overall survival 82.3 %. Triple-negative clinically T1-2N0 breast cancer patients rarely develop a regional recurrence. Their disease-free survival is more threatened by distant recurrence, affecting their overall survival. Consequently, it seems justified to include triple-negative breast cancer patients in randomized controlled trials investigating the safety of minimizing axillary staging and treatment.