In 96 ovarian cancer patients, the present study investigates the clinical significance of pretreatment concentrations of soluble CD44 standard (CD44s) and its isoforms v5 and v6 determined in the serum and the ascitic fluid by means of recently developed enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs). Furthermore, CD44 serum concentrations in the ovarian cancer patients were compared with circulating CD44 levels in 50 healthy age-matched female blood donors. Whereas CD44s was found to be higher and CD44v5 to be lower in ovarian cancer patients than healthy control subjects, no statistical difference between the two cohorts was revealed for CD44 isoform v6. In the ascitic fluid samples, variant isoform v5 and v6 were demonstrated at lower concentrations than serum. Multivariate analysis of overall survival demonstrated that a high pretreatment serum level of soluble CD44 isoform v5 is independently associated with favourable clinical outcome in ovarian cancer. When circulating CD44 isoforms were compared with a panel of serum parameters known to be involved in the immunological network, an inverse correlation between serum CD44v5 levels and indicators of cellular immune system activation, such as soluble interleukin 2 receptor, immunostimulatory protein 90K and neopterin, became apparent.