The relationship of family history of cancer of the breast, colon/rectum, cervix, endometrium, lung, and thyroid to the risk of epithelial ovarian cancer was investigated in a large population-based case-control study. The data consisted of family histories from 493 epithelial ovarian cancer cases and 2,465 controls aged 20-54 years. After controlling for potential confounders, risk for epithelial ovarian cancer was found to be significantly elevated among women reporting breast cancer and colo/rectal cancer in a first-degree relative. Adjusted odds ratios were 1.5 (95% CI = 1.1-2.1) and 1.9 (95% CI = 1.1-3.3), respectively. None of the remaining four types of cancer was found to be statistically associated with the risk of epithelial ovarian cancer. However, when histologic subtypes of epithelial ovarian cancer were considered, a family history of breast cancer was found to be associated with an elevated risk of endometrioid ovarian cancer (odds ratio = 2.3; 95% CI = 1.1-4.7), as was a family history of endometrial cancer (odds ratio = 2.7; 95% CI = 1.0-6.9). The results are considered in the context of other studies of familial patterns of cancer and are compared with published findings concerning the occurrence of multiple primary cancers in the same individual. The findings indicate that further study is warranted regarding possible genetic relationships between epithelial ovarian cancer and cancers arising in other organs.