Ovarian cancer is one of the most challenging diseases in gynecologic oncology. The presentation of frequent recurrences requires the establishment and further development of therapy standards for this patient group. Surgery is crucial in the therapy of patients with primary ovarian cancer, and the postoperative residual tumor mass is the most relevant clinical prognostic factor. The surgical management of recurrent disease is still subject to an emotional international discussion. Only a few prospective clinical trials focused on the effects of surgery in relapsed ovarian cancer have been published. The available data show improvements in the prognosis due to complete cytoreduction in the setting of recurrence. However, the selection of eligible patients is the essential issue. Therefore, the establishment of reliable predictive factors for complete tumor resection as well as a definition of the group of patients who might profit from this approach remains a field for research. Further randomized trials designed to develop and incorporate operative standards for recurrent ovarian cancer should follow.© 2019 The Authors. Cancer published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of American Cancer Society.