Cancer stem cells have been isolated from several solid tumors including prostate, colon, liver, breast, and ovarian cancer. Stem cells isolated from nervous system and prostate express CD133 antigen, which is widely used to isolate hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. The aims of this study were to investigate the expression of the CD133-1 and CD133-2 epitopes in primary ovarian tumors and to biologically characterize CD133+ ovarian cancer cells, also according to clinicopathologic parameters. Tissue specimens were obtained at primary surgery from 41 ovarian carcinomas; eight normal ovaries and five benign ovarian tumors were also collected. Flow cytometry with monoclonal antibodies against CD133-1 and CD133-2 epitopes was employed. FACS (fluorescence activated cell sorting) analysis enabled the selection of CD133+ cells, whose epithelial origin was confirmed by immunofluorescence analysis with monoclonal anti-cytokeratin 7. CD133+ cells gave rise to a 4.7 ± 0.9-fold larger number of colonies than that documented in CD133− population (P < 0.001). Moreover, CD133+ cells showed an enhanced proliferative potential compared to CD133− cells. The percentages of CD133-1- and CD133-2-expressing cells were significantly lower in normal ovaries/benign tumors with respect to those in ovarian carcinoma. Both the percentages of CD133-1- and CD133-2-expressing cells were significantly lower in omental metastases than in primary ovarian cancer (P = 0.009 and 0.007 for CD133-1- and CD133-2-expressing cells, respectively). There seems not to be any difference in the distribution of the percentage of CD133-1- and CD133-2-expressing cells according to clinicopathologic parameters and response to primary chemotherapy. CD133-1 and CD133-2 may be useful in order to select and enrich the population of CD133+ ovarian tumor cells, which are characterized by a higher clonogenic efficiency and proliferative potential.