Comparative genomic hybridization was applied to detect and map changes in DNA copy number in 24 well or moderately differentiated epithelial ovarian carcinomas (eight serous, eight mucinous and eight endometrioid carcinomas). Twenty-three of the 24 tumours showed changes in DNA copy number in one or several regions (median 4, range 1-17). Gains were more frequent than losses (ratio 1.6:1.0). The most frequent gains occurred in chromosomes 1q (38%), 2p (29%), 7q (25%), 8q(38%) and 17q (38%), and the most common losses were located in chromosomes 8p (21%), 9p (25%) and 13q (21%). High-level amplifications were detected in seven tumours at 1q22-32, 2p15-22, 3qcen-23, 6p21-22 and 8q. In the three histological subtypes the copy number karyotypes showed substantial differences. Gains at 1q were observed in endometrioid (five cases) and serous tumours (four cases). Increased copy number at 10q was seen in endometrioid tumours only (four cases), whereas gains at 11q occurred mostly in serous tumours (four cases). In mucinous tumours, the most common copy number change was a gain at 17q (six cases). The results show that, in epithelial ovarian carcinoma, changes in DNA copy number are a rule rather than an exception, chromosomes 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 13 and 17 being the most frequently affected. The diverging pattern of genetic changes seen in epithelial ovarian carcinomas with different histological phenotypes suggests that various pathways may lead to tumorigenesis and/or progression in these subgroups.