Carcinogenesis in the ovary presents special features related to that organ. First, the preinvasive or even invasive lesions are difficult to detect, which explains why most cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage. Second, the group of tumors of low malignant potential (borderline tumors) are still a controversial category of ovarian lesions. Finally, familial ovarian tumors represent an interesting hereditary model of carcinogenesis at the molecular level. Flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry for proliferative markers or oncogenes provide important prognostic information in patients with ovarian tumors. Molecular data, such as loss of heterozygosity at specific genetic loci, also have been correlated with prognosis. Clonality studies in patients with multiple ovarian/pelvian lesions analyzing chromosome X inactivation patterns and genetic deletions or mutations have contributed to the understanding of the origin of these lesions. New technologies to study gene expression patterns, such as cDNA library construction and DNA microarray technologies, are being applied to study histologic phases of tumor progression, such as normal, preinvasive, and tumor tissues. It is hoped that these studies will contribute important information not only for a better understanding of the process of carcinogenesis, but also for assessing the biology and behavior of individual tumors, determining patient prognosis, and eventually influencing therapy.