Aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (ALDH1) is a cancer stem-like cell (CSC) marker in human cancers; however, the specific ALDH1-regulated function and its underlying signalling pathways have not been fully demonstrated. Here, we investigated the ALDH1-regulated function and its underlying signalling and tested whether all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) can suppress ALDH1-regulated tumour behaviour in ovarian cancer cells. By modulating ALDH1 expression using flow cytometry enrichment and exogenous overexpression or knockdown, we showed that the ALDH1 activity is positively correlated with stemness in ovarian cancer cells according to measures such as sphere formation and CSC marker expression as well as tumourigenesis in a mouse xenograft model. The findings indicate that the ALDH1 directly regulates the functions of ovarian cancer cells. We also showed that ALDH1 can regulate the expression of FoxM1 and Notch 1, which are involved in the downstream signalling of ALDH1-mediated biofunctions. Inhibition of FoxM1 by Thiostrepton and of Notch1 by DAPT downregulated the sphere formation ability of cells. ATRA reduced ALDH1 expression, suppressed tumour formation and inhibited sphere formation, cell migration and invasion in ALDH1-abundant ovarian cancer cells. We conclude that ATRA downregulates ALDH1/FoxM1/Notch1 signalling and suppresses tumour formation in ovarian cancer cells.