Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) content in ovarian carcinomas was assessed by quantitative PCR. Results show that mtDNA content in tumour cell was significantly higher than that in normal ovary. Change in mtDNA content was not related with patients' age or tumour stages. However, the average mtDNA copy number in pathological low-grade tumours was over two-fold higher than that in high-grade carcinomas (P=0.012). Moreover, type I carcinomas also had a significantly higher mtDNA copy number than in type II carcinomas (P=0.019). Change in mtDNA content might be an important genetic event in the progression of ovarian carcinomas.