Because it has been suggested that an environmental factor may play a role in the etiology of ovarian cancer, a case-control study was conducted to assess some environmental and other risk factors for ovarian cancer from 1994 to 1996 in northern Kyushu, Japan. We analyzed the data of 89 cases with epithelial ovarian cancer and 323 controls without any cancer or ovarian disorder. After controlling for the effect of potential confounders, the odds ratios of ovarian cancer across increasing quartiles of the heaviest body weight were 1.00, 1.15, 1.71, 2.29 (P = 0.008, test for trend). Significantly increased risks were noted for a history of diabetes mellitus (P < 0.05), and for a family history of ovarian cancer (P < 0.05). Significantly decreased trends for risk were obtained for the number of pregnancies (P < 0.01) and the number of live births (P < 0.001). This study provides additional support for an association between obesity and the risk of ovarian cancer. This relationship may at least partly explain the recent increase in the incidence of ovarian cancer in Japan, although possible contributions of other factors can not be ruled out.