The tumour suppressor gene CDKN2A, located on chromosome 9p21, encodes the cell cycle regulatory protein p16. Inactivation of the CDKN2A gene could lead to uncontrolled cell growth. In order to determine the role of CDKN2A in the development of sporadic ovarian cancer, loss of heterozygosity at 9p21-22, homozygous deletion, mutation and methylation status of the CDKN2A gene as well as CDKN2A expression were examined in a panel of serous papillary ovarian cancer. The frequency of loss of heterozygosity (LOH) for one or more informative markers at 9p21-22 was 65% (15/23). The most common deleted region was located between interferon (IFN)-alpha and D9S171. Homozygous deletions and mutations of the CDKN2A gene were not found. There was no evidence of methylation in exon 1, but methylation in exon 2 of CDKN2A gene was found in 26% (6/23). Absence of CDKN2A gene expression was shown in 27% (6/22) at mRNA level and 21% (4/19) at protein level. These data suggest that the CDKN2A gene is involved in the tumorigenesis of ovarian cancer, but the mechanisms of CDKN2A gene inactivation in serous papillary ovarian cancer remains unclear.