The molecular pathogenesis of ovarian carcinoma involves altered expression of growth factors, activation of oncogenes and loss of tumor suppressor genes. Loss of heterozygosity on chromosomes 3p, 6q, 11p, 17 and 18q was reported as a significant alteration in ovarian cancer. However, no functional proof has been provided of tumor suppressor activity located in these chromosomal regions. We therefore introduced normal human chromosomes 3 and 11 into an ovarian carcinoma cell line by microcell mediated chromosome transfer. Transfer of chromosome 3 induced senescence and growth arrest as well as suppression of tumorigenicity. Tumors induced by chromosome 3 monochromosomic hybrids consistently lost three small regions on 3p, two of which located in 3p23-24.2 and one located in 3p21.1-21.2, suggesting that these chromosomal regions are important for suppression of tumorigenicity of ovarian carcinoma cells. Transfer of chromosome 11 reduced the in vitro growth properties of ovarian cancer cells but did not significantly affect tumorigenicity. These results provide functional evidence for chromosome 3 tumor suppressor activity in ovarian cancer and define the chromosomal regions on 3p involved in the pathogenesis of this tumor. This experimental system, based on functional effects, may be useful for further delimitation and isolation of critical regions on 3p involved in tumor suppression.