Forty-seven ovarian cancer cases in which 20 were previously treated with cisplatin (cisPt) based chemotherapy, were checked for in vitro chemosensitivity using MTT assay. The drugs included in the study were cisPt, adriamycin (ADR), epirubicin (EPR) and etoposide (ETO). The logarithemic concentrations (0.1, 1.0, 10.0 and 100.0 micrograms/ml) of these drugs were used in the MTT assay. The IC50 values for these drugs in the above tumor samples were calculated. The effect of pretreatment with cisPt based chemotherapy on the emergence of drug resistance, expression of p53 protein (detected using immunohistochemical method by employing monoclonal antibody to p53) and intracellular glutathione (GSH) levels was also studied. Our results demonstrated the superiority of EPR in terms of its efficacy as compared to the other drugs used in the study. EPR was effective in both, previously cisPt-exposed and cisPt-unexposed ovarian cancer cases indicating its importance as a second line chemotherapy in the refractory ovarian carcinoma cases. Pre-exposure to cisPt based chemotherapy appears to result in the emergence of cisPt resistance, elevated intracellular GSH levels as well as p53 positivity. A statistically significant correlation was also observed between ADR and EPR resistance and p53 positivity (P < 0.01 and 0.05 respectively).