1. Oestrogen plays an important role in ageing and ageing-related development. Lack of oestrogen prompts endocrine cell ageing of the ovary, whereas oestrogen overflow impacts on epithelial cell neoplastic development. 2. Recent studies indicate that oestrogen regulates cell proliferative fates by a mechanism of reprogramming the size of telomeres (ends of chromosomes) in the oestrogen target cells. This is achieved by upregulating the telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) gene in a temporal and spatial manner. 3. Currently, the relationship between oestrogen and telomerase activity in regulating productive cell development and function remains elusive. A number of lines of evidence suggest that telomerase is a downstream target of oestrogen in oestrogen-dependent reproductive ageing and neoplastic development. 4. The present minireview discusses our current understanding of the mechanisms by which telomerase maintenance of telomere homeostasis mediates oestrogen-induced ageing and tumourigenesis in the ovary under physiological and pathological conditions.