Genes of the RAF family, which mediate cellular responses to growth signals, encode kinases that are regulated by RAS and participate in the RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK/MAP-kinase pathway. Activating mutations in BRAF have recently been identified in melanomas, colorectal cancers, and thyroid and ovarian tumours. In the present study, an extensive characterization of BRAF and KRAS mutations has been performed in 264 epithelial and non-epithelial ovarian neoplasms. The epithelial tumours ranged from adenomas and borderline neoplasms to invasive carcinomas including serous, mucinous, clear cell, and endometrioid lesions. It is shown that BRAF mutations in ovarian tumours occur exclusively in low-grade serous neoplasms (33 of 91, 36%); these included serous borderline tumours (typical and micropapillary variants), an invasive micropapillary carcinoma and a psammocarcinoma. KRAS mutations were identified in 26 of 91 (29.5%) low-grade serous tumours, 7 of 49 (12%) high-grade serous carcinomas, 2 of 6 mucinous adenomas, 22 of 28 mucinous borderline tumours, and 10 of 18 mucinous carcinomas. Of note, two serous borderline tumours were found to harbour both BRAF and KRAS mutations. The finding that at least 60% of serous borderline tumours harbour mutations in two members of the ERK-MAP-kinase pathway (BRAF 36%, KRAS 30%) compared with 12% of high-grade serous carcinomas (BRAF 0%, KRAS 12%) indicates that the majority of serous borderline tumours do not progress to serous carcinomas. Furthermore, no BRAF mutations were detected in the other 173 ovarian tumours in this study. Copyright © 2004 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.