ARTICLE ABSTRACTUp to 50% of epithelial ovarian cancers (EOC) display defects in the homologous recombination (HR) pathway. We sought to determine the ramifications of the homologous recombination–deficient (HRD) status on the clinicopathologic features, chemotherapy response, and survival outcomes of patients with EOCs. HR status was determined in primary cultures from ascitic fluid in 50 chemotherapy-naïve patients by a functional RAD51 immunofluorescence assay and correlated with in vitro sensitivity to the PARP inhibitor (PARPi), rucaparib. All patients went on to receive platinum-based chemotherapy; platinum sensitivity, tumor progression, and overall survival were compared prospectively in HR-competent versus HRD patients. Compared with HR-competent patients, the HRD group was predominantly serous with a higher median CA125 at presentation. HRD was associated with higher ex vivo PARPi sensitivity and clinical platinum sensitivity. Median follow-up duration was 14 months; patients in the HRD group had lower tumor progression rates at 6 months, lower overall/disease-specific death rates at 12 months, and higher median survival. We therefore suggest that HRD as predicted by a functional RAD51 assay correlates with in vitro PARPi sensitivity, clinical platinum sensitivity, and improved survival outcome. Cancer Res; 72(22); 5675–82. ©2012 AACR.