Cyclin D1 is a cell cycle regulator of G1 progression that has been suggested to play a relevant role in the pathogenesis of several human cancer types. In the current study, the expression of cyclin D1 has been investigated in a series of 33 patients, with benign (10 patients), borderline (five patients) and malignant (18 patients) ovarian disease. Cyclin D1 protein and mRNA content were analysed by Western blotting and reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction respectively. The levels of cyclin D1 protein were undetectable in patients with benign disease, detectable in the majority of patients with borderline disease and elevated in those with ovarian carcinomas, being significantly related to the degree of malignancy (carcinoma vs benign, P = 0.0001; benign vs borderline, P = 0.0238). A significant relationship between cyclin D1 expression and tumour proliferative activity was also found (P = 0.000001). Moreover, eight benign lesions, two borderline tumours and 11 carcinomas proved to be suitable for the analysis of cyclin D1 transcript, and emerging data demonstrated significant agreement between protein abundance and mRNA expression. Results from the current study suggest that cyclin D1 expression is associated with the degree of transformation and most probably plays a role in the early development of ovarian malignancy.