Summary We consider the estimation problem of a proportional odds model with missing covariates. Based on the validation and nonvalidation data sets, we propose a joint conditional method that is an extension of Wang et al. (2002, Statistica Sinica 12, 555–574). The proposed method is semiparametric since it requires neither an additional model for the missingness mechanism, nor the specification of the conditional distribution of missing covariates given observed variables. Under the assumption that the observed covariates and the surrogate variable are categorical, we derived the large sample property. The simulation studies show that in various situations, the joint conditional method is more efficient than the conditional estimation method and weighted method. We also use a real data set that came from a survey of cable TV satisfaction to illustrate the approaches.