Epidemiological evidence regarding the association between carbohydrate intake, glycaemic load (GL) and glycaemic index (GI) and risk of ovarian cancer has been mixed. Little is known about their impact on ovarian cancer risk in African-American women. Associations between carbohydrate quantity and quality and ovarian cancer risk were investigated among 406 cases and 609 controls using data from the African American Cancer Epidemiology Study (AACES). AACES is an ongoing population-based case-control study of ovarian cancer in African-Americans in the USA. Cases were identified through rapid case ascertainment and age- and site-matched controls were identified by random-digit dialling. Dietary information over the year preceding diagnosis or the reference date was obtained using a FFQ. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to estimate odds ratios and 95 % CI adjusted for covariates. The OR comparing the highest quartile of total carbohydrate intake and total sugar intake v. the lowest quartile were 1·57 (95 % CI 1·08, 2·28; P trend=0·03) and 1·61 (95 % CI 1·12, 2·30; P trend<0·01), respectively. A suggestion of an inverse association was found for fibre intake. Higher GL was positively associated with the risk of ovarian cancer (OR 1·18 for each 10 units/4184 kJ (1000 kcal); 95 % CI 1·04, 1·33). No associations were observed for starch or GI. Our findings suggest that high intake of total sugars and GL are associated with greater risk of ovarian cancer in African-American women.