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This study was designed to determine whether c-erbB-2 overexpression could be used as a marker to identify a subgroup of patients with ovarian cancer more likely than others to benefit from chemotherapy. Paraffin sections from tissue blocks from 208 patients with newly diagnosed untreated ovarian cancer were analyzed for c-erbB-2 overexpression. All patients underwent postoperative platin-based chemotherapy. Patients with c-erbB-2 positive tumors had a significantly worse prognosis as compared to patients with c-erbB-2 negative tumors (p = 0.0003). c-erbB-2 findings were not related to tumor stage or histologie findings. There was clear evidence of a dose-response effect with regard to survival in patients with c-erbB-2 negative tumors, which could not be seen in patients with c-erbB-2 positive tumors (p = 0.0341 vs p = 0.3775). We conclude that there is a significant total dose-response effect of platin-based chemotherapy in ovarian cancer patients without overexpression of c-erbB-2 but not in patients with c-erbB-2 overexpression. Overexpression of c-erbB-2 may be a useful marker to identify patients who are most likely to benefit from high-dose chemotherapy.