In 100 mucinous tumors of the ovary (37 benign, 24 borderline, and 39 malignant), the authors determined by histochemical and immunohistochemical techniques the frequencies and patterns of expression of a total of nine markers of gastric, intestinal, and pancreatobiliary duct epithelial cells. M1, a mucin antigen, and cathepsin E (CaE), an aspartic proteinase, two markers of normal gastric superficial/foveolar epithelial cells, were expressed in 95 and 92 tumors, respectively. Periodic acid-concanavalin A-reactive mucin or pepsinogen (PG) II, markers of gastric mucus neck and pyloric gland cells, were found in 79 tumors. All of these tumors also expressed M1 or CaE. DU-PAN-2 and the N-terminal epitope of gastrin-releasing peptide, markers of normal pancreatobiliary duct cells, were found in 70 and 49 tumors, respectively, and CAR-5 and M3SI, markers of intestinal mucin, were expressed in 51 and 30 tumors, respectively. All tumors expressed at least two of the nine markers studied; none expressed PG I, a marker of gastric chief cells. The mucopeptic cell marker, PG II, was significantly more common in benign and borderline than in malignant tumors (P less than 0.005), whereas CAR-5 and M3SI, markers of intestinal mucin, were expressed significantly more often in malignant than in benign and borderline tumors (P less than 0.001). By electron microscopic examination, many tumor cells had fine structural features characteristic of gastric superficial/foveolar and pyloric gland cells, intestinal columnar or goblet cells, and endocervical cells. The results indicate that gastroenteropancreatic cell differentiation--and, in particular, gastric type differentiation--is a prominent feature of ovarian mucinous tumors.