Mouse monoclonal antibodies (OV-TL 3) were raised against human ovarian tumor-associated antigens for diagnostic purposes. A cloned hybridoma cell line was obtained by fusion of murine myeloma cells with spleen lymphocytes from BALB/c mice immunized with a tumor cell suspension prepared from an ovarian endometrioid carcinoma. The antibodies were initially screened for their ability to bind on frozen sections of human ovarian carcinoma tissue and a negative reaction on gastric carcinoma tissue by indirect immunofluorescence. The reactivity of the selected OV-TL 3 clone (IgG1 subclass) was studied on normal and neoplastic tissues as well as on a cell line derived from the original tumor cell suspension used for immunization. OV-TL 3 antibodies stained frozen sections of human ovarian carcinomas of the following histological types: serous, mucinous, endometrioid, and clear cell. No reaction was found with breast cancers or other nongynecological tumors. No differences in staining pattern were observed between primary and metastatic ovarian carcinomas. OV-TL 3 antibodies brightly stained ovarian carcinoma cell clusters in ascitic fluids and left unstained mesothelial cells and peripheral blood cells. The OV-TL 3-defined antigen also remained strongly expressed on a cell line derived from the endometrioid ovarian carcinoma originally used for generation of OV-TL 3 clone. Reactivity was weak and irregular in a few ovarian cysts, while traces of fluorescence were sometimes detected in epithelial cells lining the female genital tract. In only 3 specimens of 15 endometrium carcinomas was weak focal reactivity with OV-TL 3 antibodies observed. The results of the immunofluorescence study were confirmed by the more sensitive avidin-biotin method and by 125I-labeled OV-TL 3 antibodies. Thus OV-TL 3 recognizes a common antigen for most ovarian carcinomas and may be a useful tool for rapid diagnosis of ovarian carcinomas.