There is increasing evidence that prolactin (PRL), a hormone/cytokine, plays a role in breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers via local production or accumulation. Elevated levels of serum PRL in ovarian and endometrial cancers have been reported, indicating a potential role for PRL in endometrial and ovarian carcinogenesis. In this study, we show that serum PRL levels are significantly elevated in women with a strong family history of ovarian cancer. We show dramatically increased expression of PRL receptor in ovarian and endometrial tumors as well as in endometrial hyperplasia, signifying the importance of PRL signaling in malignant and premalignant conditions. PRL mRNA was expressed in ovarian and endometrial tumors, indicating the presence of an autocrine loop. PRL potently induced proliferation in several ovarian and endometrial cancer cell lines. Binding of PRL to its receptor was followed by rapid phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2, mitogen-activated protein kinase/ERK kinase 1, signal transducer and activator of transcription 3, CREB, ATF-2, and p53 and activation of 37 transcription factors in ovarian and endometrial carcinoma cells. PRL also activated Ras oncogene in these cells. When human immortalized normal ovarian epithelial cells were chronically exposed to PRL, a malignant transformation occurred manifested by the acquired ability of transformed cells to form clones, grow in soft agar, and form tumors in severe combined immunodeficient-beige mice. Transformation efficiency was diminished by a Ras inhibitor, providing proof that PRL-induced transformation uses the Ras pathway. In summary, we present findings that indicate an important role for PRL in ovarian and endometrial tumorigenesis. PRL may represent a risk factor for ovarian and endometrial cancers.