Disrupted phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) activity and its effect on the downstream target AKT plays an important role in malignant diseases. Gain and/or amplification of PIK3CA gene, encoding the catalytic subunit of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (p110 alpha) and its increased expression are associated with enhanced PI3K activity in ovarian cancer cell lines. In this study, ovarian carcinomas with documented clinical outcome were assessed for genetic aberrations at the 3q26.3 locus, including PIK3CA, by fluorescence in situ hybridization. PIK3CA amplification was evaluated by quantitative real-time PCR with respect to a control gene situated at 3q13. The expression of p110 alpha, phosphorylated AKT (pAKT) and the proliferation marker Ki-67 were immunohistochemically investigated. PIK3CA amplification and Ki-67 index were strong predictors for an early tumour-associated death. p110 alpha expression correlated with 3q26.3 gain and Ki-67 index but not with the patient outcome. No relationship could be observed between p110 alpha and pAKT or between pAKT and disease outcome. It is interesting to note that cases with a nuclear pAKT immunoreactivity showed a trend of improved overall survival. Our results underline the prognostic significance of PIK3CA in ovarian carcinoma and argue against a simple linear model of PIK3CA gain/amplification followed by PI3K activation and consecutive AKT phosphorylation in ovarian carcinoma.