The feasibility of laparoscopic staging in patients with ovarian cancer was undertaken prospectively to determine the ability to adequately evaluate both the intraperitoneal cavity and the retroperitoneal lymph nodes. Two groups of ovarian cancer patients were evaluated: those with optimally debulked advanced disease undergoing second-look procedures and those with presumed stage I disease undergoing surgical staging. Twenty-four of the 44 laparoscopic second-look procedures (56%) were positive for persistent disease. Five of these patients had microscopic disease only, in the omentum, washings, pelvic peritoneum, and in para-aortic lymph nodes (2 patients). In the group of 14 patients undergoing staging for presumed early ovarian carcinoma, metastatic disease was discovered in 8 (57%) patients. Two patients had peritoneal washings positive for adenocarcinoma; 3 had pelvic disease, 1 confined to a fallopian tube and 2 to the pelvic peritoneum; and 3 patients had para-aortic lymph nodes positive for metastatic adenocarcinoma. There were no serious complications in this category. The average hospital stay was 1.6 days. Laparoscopic staging appears to be an accurate staging technique, and further investigation into the validity of this approach is warranted.