A DNA-fingerprinting approach has been adapted to detect differentially expressed genes in human ovarian carcinoma. This method is based on the use of arbitrary primers to generate fingerprints from total RNA isolated from normal ovarian epithelial cells and ovarian carcinoma cells by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Using this method, we cloned two cDNA fragments (DOC-1 and DOC-2) which were present in normal ovarian surface epithelial cells but consistently absent in all of the ovarian cancer cell lines from the differential display. In addition, we also identified a cDNA fragment (LF4.0) which is overexpressed in most of the tumor cell lines and tumor tissues in comparison to the normal ovarian surface epithelial cells. The differential expression of the genes in the tumor cell lines as well as in the tumor tissues was also confirmed by Northern analysis. The clone DOC-2, which is a 800-bp cDNA fragment, has one open reading frame suggesting that the gene may be translated. Assuming that this frame is the sense strand, we generated both sense and antisense riboprobe for in situ mRNA hybridization. Only the antisense DOC-2 riboprobe revealed a hybridization signal which was restricted to the human surface ovarian epithelium. The potential functional roles of these genes is now under investigation.