Mucinous epithelial ovarian cancers (MOC) are clinically and morphologically distinct from the other histological subtypes of ovarian cancer. To determine the genetic basis of MOC and to identify potential tumour markers, gene expression profiling of 49 primary ovarian cancers of different histological subtypes was performed using a customised oligonucleotide microarray containing >59 000 probesets. The results show that MOC express a genetic profile that both differs and overlaps with other subtypes of epithelial ovarian cancer. Concordant with its histological phenotype, MOC express genes characteristic of mucinous carcinomas of varying epithelial origin, including intestinal carcinomas. Differences in gene expression between MOC and other histological subtypes of ovarian cancer were confirmed by RT-PCR and/or immunohistochemistry. In particular, galectin 4 (LGALS4) was highly and specifically expressed in MOC, but expressed at lower levels in benign mucinous cysts and borderline (atypical proliferative) tumours, supporting a malignant progression model of MOC. Hence LGALS4 may have application as an early and differential diagnostic marker of MOC.