Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology was used to examine the state of amplification of the proto-oncogene c-myc in archival ovarian carcinomas. Sequences from the c-myc gene and from a control gene were amplified simultaneously by PCR and the ratios of the two products measured. The results provided an accurate measurement of the relative number of copies of the two genes in each tumor genome if the control and test sequences amplified by PCR were of equal lengths. The results were not affected by the number of PCR cycles used. This technique should facilitate gene amplification studies in clinical medicine. Increased c-myc copy number was found in 17% of the 30 cases examined when a control from the same chromosome as c-myc was used, but in 37% of cases if a control from another chromosome was used. This underlines the importance of the genetic location of the selected control genes for such studies.