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Alterations in the retinoblastoma gene (RB-1) are common in human neoplasia. The frequency of loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at the RB-1 locus on chromosome 13q14 was studied in a series of 51 epithelial ovarian tumors (10 benign, 7 borderline, and 34 malignant). LOH was scored by the absence or reduction of the signal to < 50% of one of the alleles in tumor DNA compared with normal DNA. LOH results were correlated with retinoblastoma protein (pRB) immunostaining. LOH at the RB-1 locus was observed in 9 tumors (17.6%), specifically in 1 of 7 borderline tumors and 8 of 34 ovarian carcinomas (23.5%). Among the malignant tumors, LOH occurred more frequently in carcinomas with serous differentiation (7/23; 30%). A heterogeneous (10% to 70% cells) or diffuse (>70% cells) pRB immunostaining was less frequent in benign (1/10; 10%) and borderline (2/7; 28%) tumors than in ovarian carcinomas (15/34; 44%), an observation that correlated with the higher proliferative index in carcinomas than in benign and borderline tumors. However, lack or only focal (<10% cells) pRB immunostaining occurred in the vast majority of tumors with LOH at the RB-1 locus (7/9; 77%), a finding that may suggest a tumor suppressor role for RB-1 in these tumors. The results suggest that RB-1 may play a role in a subset of ovarian carcinomas, particularly those exhibiting serous differentiation.