The relationship between alcohol consumption and the risk of epithelial ovarian cancer was analysed using data from a case-control study of 801 histologically confirmed epithelial ovarian cancers and 2114 controls in hospital for acute, non-neoplastic, gynecological, or hormone-related conditions, admitted to a network of teaching and general hospitals in the greater Milan area, northern Italy, i.e. a region with comparatively frequent alcohol consumption by women. Compared to alcohol abstainers, the multivariate relative risks (RRs) were 1.0 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.7 to 1.4] for less than one, 1.1. (95% CI 0.9 to 1.6) for one to two, 1.2 (95% CI 1.0 to 1.5) for two to three and 1.3 (95% CI 0.9 to 1.8) for three or more drinks per day. A significant direct trend in risk with dose emerged. This finding chiefly derived from an association between ovarian cancer risk and consumption of wine (which accounts for over 90% of alcohol intake in this female population). Although no significant interaction between the effect of alcohol consumption and various women's characteristics emerged, there was a hint that the adverse influence of alcohol consumption is more marked in middle-age and less educated women. Thus, the results of this study suggest that relatively elevated alcohol intake (of the order of 40 g per day or more) may cause a modest increase of epithelial ovarian cancer risk.