Cyclooxygenase (COX) (PTGS) is the rate-limiting enzyme in the biosynthesis of prostaglandins. Two COX isoforms have been identified, COX-1 and COX-2, which show distinct cell-specific expression and regulation. Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecological malignancy and the disease is poorly understood due to the lack of suitable animal models. The laying hen spontaneously develops epithelial ovarian cancer with few or no symptoms until the cancer has progresses to a late stage, similar to the human disease. The purpose of this study was to examine the relative expression and distribution of COX-1 and COX-2 in the ovaries of normal hens and in hens with ovarian cancer. The results demonstrate that COX-1 was localized to the granulosa cell layer and cortical interstitium, ovarian surface epithelium (OSE) and postovulatory follicle (POF) of the normal ovary. In ovarian cancer, COX-1 mRNA was significantly increased and COX-1 protein was broadly distributed throughout the tumor stroma. COX-2 protein was localized to the granulosa cell layer in the follicle and the ovarian stroma. COX-2 mRNA expression did not change as a function of age or in ovarian cancer. There was significantly higher expression of COX-1 mRNA in the first POF (POF-1) compared to POF-2 and POF-3. COX-2 mRNA expression was not significantly different among POFs. There was no difference in COX-1 or COX-2 mRNA in the OSE isolated from individual follicles in the follicular hierarchy. The results confirm previous findings of the high expression of COX-1 in ovarian tumors further supporting the laying hen as a model for ovarian cancer, and demonstrate for the first time the high expression of COX-1 in POF-1 which is the source of prostaglandins needed for oviposition.