Ovarian carcinoma is a leading cause of cancer death in women. Though advances in conventional therapies have been achieved, long-term survival rates for most patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer are still low. Therefore, novel molecular therapeutic strategies such as gene therapy are being intensively pursued. Such approaches are based on the enormous progress that has been achieved in the elucidation of the molecular foundations of ovarian cancer. In this regard transcriptional control elements (promoters) of genes frequently upregulated or specifically expressed in tumors can be applied in a heterologous context to drive expression of therapeutic genes in targeted gene therapy strategies. This review discusses transcriptional targeting strategies in ovarian cancer gene therapy and gives an overview of tumor-specific promoters (TSPs) that have been applied for this purpose. © 2001 Academic Press.