With 2 436 deaths in 1979, ovarian cancer is relatively infrequent in France comprising but 5 per cent of female mortality from malignant disease. However, the rate of increase in mortality is considerable, 70 per cent between 1955 and 1979 or 2,9 per cent per year, greater than that for female bladder and breast cancer. The estimated morbidity and mortality rates (age-adjusted to the world standard population) were 7,5 and 5,4 per 100,000 per annum respectively for 1979, figures in the mid range of international data. This is situated below the rates observed in Scandinavia and North America which occupied the first ranks. The high proportion of metastatic dissemination (55%) at the time of diagnosis and the variety of morphological types (80% being epithelial cancers) emerges from clinical data relating to a series of 2,937 ovarian cancers diagnosed by the "Enquête Permanente Cancer". The 5-year survival rate was 13 per cent with only 50 per cent being alive at the end of the first year. To improve these poor results it is necessary to identify new risk factors in a future French epidemiological study using case control and prospective approaches.