We examined the associations of measured anthropometric factors, including general and central adiposity and height, with ovarian cancer risk. We also investigated these associations by menopausal status and for specific histological subtypes. Among 226,798 women in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort, there were 611 incident cases of primary, malignant, epithelial ovarian cancer diagnosed during a mean 8.9 years of follow-up. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs), adjusted for potential confounders. Compared to women with body mass index (BMI) < 25 kg/m2, obesity (BMI > or = 30 kg/m2) was associated with excess ovarian cancer risk for all women combined (HR = 1.33, 95% CI = 1.05-1.68; p(trend) = 0.02) and postmenopausal women (HR = 1.59, 95% CI = 1.20-2.10; p(trend) = 0.001), but the association was weaker for premenopausal women (HR = 1.16, 95% CI = 0.65-2.06; p(trend) = 0.65). Neither height or weight gain, nor BMI-adjusted measures of fat distribution assessed by waist circumference, waist-hip ratio (WHR) or hip circumference were associated with overall risk. WHR was related to increased risk of mucinous tumors (BMI-adjusted HR per 0.05 unit increment = 1.17, 95% CI = 1.00-1.38). For all women combined, no other significant associations with risk were observed for specific histological subtypes. This large, prospective study provides evidence that obesity is an important modifiable risk factor for epithelial ovarian cancer, particularly among postmenopausal women.