In this study, we evaluate a two-tier system for grading ovarian serous carcinoma. This system is based primarily on the assessment of nuclear atypia with the mitotic rate used as a secondary feature. The study included 50 cases of low-grade ovarian serous carcinoma and 50 cases of high-grade ovarian serous carcinoma retrieved from the files of the Department of Pathology at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center from a 28-year period. Cases assigned to the low-grade category were characterized by the presence of mild to moderate nuclear atypia. As a secondary feature, they tended to show up to 12 mitoses per 10 high power fields (HPFs), whereas those in the high-grade category had marked nuclear atypia and as a secondary feature more than 12 mitoses per 10 HPFs. For comparison, the tumors were also graded using the Shimizu/Silverberg and the FIGO grading systems. Patients in the low-grade ovarian serous carcinoma group ranged in age from 19 to 75 years (mean 41.7 years) while patients in the high-grade ovarian serous carcinoma group ranged in age from 27 to 76 years (mean 55 years). All of the cases except one were advanced FIGO stage. Using the Shimizu/Silverberg system, the low-grade ovarian serous carcinoma cases were distributed as follows: grade 1, 47 cases; grade 2, 3 cases. Using the FIGO grading system, 35 cases were grade 1 and 15 cases were grade 2. Regarding the high-grade ovarian serous carcinoma group using the Shimizu/Silverberg system, 14 of the cases were grade 2 and 36 cases were grade 3. Using the FIGO grading system, 1 case was grade 1, 38 cases were grade 2, and 11 cases were grade 3. Most of the patients in both groups were treated with total abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy and also received cisplatinum-based chemotherapy. On follow-up, 37 patients in the low-grade ovarian serous carcinoma group had died of disease at a median 4.2 years after diagnosis compared with 46 patients in the high-grade ovarian serous carcinoma group who died of disease at a median of 1.7 years. Eight patients in the low-grade ovarian serous carcinoma group and 4 patients in the high-grade ovarian serous carcinoma group were alive with disease at median follow-ups of 4.3 and 3.85 years, respectively. Four patients with low-grade serous carcinoma were alive without evidence of disease after a follow-up that ranged from 4.4 to 22.6 years (median 6.85 years), and one died of other causes 14 years after the diagnosis of her ovarian tumor. On multivariate analysis, residual tumor and tumor grade based on the M. D. Anderson two-tier system for grading ovarian serous carcinoma were found to be significant independent prognostic factors (P = 0.003 and 0.04, respectively). Of interest, 60% of the low-grade ovarian serous carcinomas in this study were associated with a serous neoplasm of low malignant potential, whereas this association was present in only 2% of the high-grade ovarian serous carcinomas. This finding could reflect a difference in the pathogenesis of ovarian serous carcinomas of different grades. In summary, there is usually a good correlation between the two-tier grading system herein presented and the Shimizu/Silverberg and the FIGO grading systems. Because this system is based on defined criteria that are easy to follow and because it involves only two diagnostic categories, it should provide better reproducibility in the grading of ovarian serous carcinoma. However, additional studies are required to validate these statements.