Entrapment of surface epithelium within the ovarian stroma was proposed as an initial event in the pathogenesis of cystadenocarcinoma of the ovary. Subsequent events, including differentiation, proliferation, and eventual malignant transformation of the entrapped epithelium, may occur as a consequence of stimulation by estrogen or estrogen precursors. These events were more likely when the steroid producing stroma itself had been stimulated by high gonadotropins. Animal experiments suggested that gonadotropin excess and stromal stimulation may result by disturbing normal feedback inhibition between ovary and pituitary or by destroying ovarian follicles. By analogy, in humans, a number of common chemicals and drugs may increase gonadotropins by enhancing estrogen degradation in the liver or by directly stimulating production by the pituitary. Elevated gonadotropins may also result via mechanisms that cause primary ovarian failure including pelvic irradiation, exposure to chemicals or metabolites toxic to follicles, or ovarian infections such as mumps.