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The red cell distribution width (RDW) has attracted attention in the diagnosis of malignant tumors. In this study, we analyzed the correlation between the RDW and ovarian cancer by observing changes in the RDW in patients with ovarian cancer.Patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangxi Medical University, China, from 2012 to 2016, were retrospectively analyzed. Patients diagnosed with ovarian benign tumors in our hospital during the same period comprised the control group. Differences in relevant indicators were compared between the ovarian cancer and control groups using the Mann–Whitney U test. Differences in the RDW at different stages of ovarian cancer were compared using one-way analysis of variance. Correlations between the RDW and experimental parameters in patients with ovarian cancer were analyzed by Spearman correlation.The RDW, absolute neutrophil count (N), neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR), platelet-to-lymphocyte ratio (PLR), and cancer antigen 125 (CA-125) concentration were significantly higher in the ovarian cancer than control group. The hemoglobin concentration (Hb) and absolute lymphocyte count (L) were significantly lower in the ovarian cancer than control group. The RDW was significantly different among 4 different stages of ovarian cancer. Correlation analysis demonstrated that the RDW was negatively correlated with the hemoglobin concentration (Hb). The RDW was positively correlated with the cancer stage, NLR, PLR, and CA-125 concentration. The area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve of the RDW was 0.876 (95% confidence interval 0.829–0.923).The RDW is associated with ovarian cancer and is a potential marker of its progression.