Abstract The aim of this study was to assess the clinical value of preoperative blood levels of HE4 as a predictor of overall survival in patients with ovarian cancer and to validate previous data of HE4 and the ROMA algorithm including HE4 and CA125 in discriminating benign and malignant ovarian tumors. Experimental design The preoperative plasma levels of HE4 and CA125 were analyzed with ELISA in 312 patients with adnexal lesions. Tumors were classified as benign (n= 206), borderline (i.e. low malignant potential tumors) (n= 25), and well (n= 14), moderately (n= 15), and poorly (n= 51) differentiated malignant. Results In univariate Cox regression analyses high levels (dichotomized at the median) of HE4, CA125, increased age (continuous variable), advanced-stage of disease 2–4, histological grade 3 and non-optimal tumor debulking at primary surgery were all significantly associated with shorter overall survival. A multivariate Cox regression model including pre-operative available covariates HE4 and CA125 both dichotomized at median in addition to age as continuous variable showed that high levels of HE4 was an independent prognostic marker for worse prognosis HR 2.02 (95% CI 1.1-3.8). In postmenopausal women the ROMA algorithm gave the highest AUC of 0.94 (95% CI, 0.90-0.97) which was higher than the separate markers HE4 AUC 0.91 (95% CI 0.86-0.95) and CA125 AUC 0.91(95% CI 0.87-0.96). Conclusions High concentration of plasma HE4 is an independent preoperative marker of poor prognosis in patients with ovarian cancer. The algorithm ROMA discriminates in postmenopausal women between malignant and benign tumors with an AUC of 0.94.