The location and amount of the basement membrane (BM) components collagen IV and laminin were studied in ovarian epithelial, sex cord-stromal and germ cell tumors. BM structures were found in the epithelial stromal interface of benign surface epithelial tumors and, though discontinuous, around well-differentiated tumor islets, being less well developed in invasive undifferentiated neoplasms. The stromal components in Müllerian mixed tumors had less distinct BM structures, a finding useful for the classification of these neoplasms. Thecomas and fibromas had scanty collagen IV and laminin; granulosa cell tumors contained large amounts of BM material. A fine diffuse BM-positive pattern occurred in dysgerminomas and endodermal sinus tumors; BM structures in cystic teratomas were distinct. Collagen IV and laminin were well-developed in benign and slow-growing tumors with epithelial components and in their metastases, but less distinct in stromal tumors and highly malignant undifferentiated tumors, showing the usefulness of this method for the clinical and biological classification of such tumors.