Ovarian metastases from colorectal carcinoma frequently mimic primary ovarian carcinomas. The present study was performed to identify possible criteria helpful in differential diagnosis. Twenty-three ovarian metastases from colorectal carcinomas and 23 primary ovarian carcinomas were evaluated clinicopathologically and immunostained with antigastric M1 antigen, cathepsin E, CA125, vimentin, estrogen and progesterone receptors, cytokeratins 7 and 20, and alpha-inhibin antibodies. We performed a conventional and molecular cytogenetic study on 5 ovarian metastases from colorectal carcinoma using direct preparation, Q banding techniques, and fluorescence in situ hybridization. Integration of clinicopathologic, immunohistochemical, and cytogenetic features is helpful for the differential diagnosis of metastases of colorectal carcinomas from primary ovarian carcinomas. Bilaterality, extrapelvic spreading, high mitotic index, and cytokeratin 20 immunoreactivity, and lack of M1, CA125, and cytokeratin 7 immunoreactivity favor the diagnosis of ovarian metastases from colon carcinomas. The identification of 13q gain as a peculiar, sensitive, and specific marker of colorectal carcinomas seems relevant.