Dietary energy restriction may protect against cancer. In parts of the Netherlands, mostly in larger cities, periods of chronically impaired nutrition and even severe famine (Hunger Winter 1944-1945) existed during the 1930s and World War II (1940-1945). We studied the association between energy restriction during childhood and early adulthood on the risk of ovarian cancer later in life. In 1986, the Netherlands Cohort Study was initiated. A self-administered questionnaire on dietary habits and other cancer risk factors was completed by 62,573 women aged 55-69 years at baseline. Follow-up for cancer was established by record linkage to the Netherlands Cancer Registry. After 16.3 years of follow-up, 364 invasive epithelial ovarian cancer cases and 2220 subcohort members (sampled from the total cohort directly after baseline) with complete information confounders were available for case-cohort analyses. In multivariable analysis, ovarian cancer risk was lower for participants with an unemployed father during the 1930s (Hazard Ratio (HR), 0.70; 95% Confidence Interval (CI), 0.47-1.06) compared to participants with an employed father as well as for participants living in a city during World War II (HR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.54-0.90) compared to participants living in the country-side. Residence in a Western City during the famine (Hunger Winter) was not associated with a decreased risk. Our results show a relation between proxy variables for modest energy restriction over a longer period of time during childhood or early adulthood and a reduced ovarian cancer risk. © 2011 Schouten et al.