In order to understand the origin of bladder cancer, very early urothelial lesions must be investigated in addition to more advanced tumors. Tissue from 31 biopsies of 12 patients with urothelial hyperplasias and simultaneous or consecutive superficial papillary tumors were used to microdissect urothelium from 15- microm sections of biopsies. The biopsies were obtained with the recently developed highly sensitive diagnostic method of 5-aminolevulinic acid-induced fluorescence endoscopy (AFE). Besides flat and papillary urothelial neoplasms, the method of photodynamic diagnostics also detects simple urothelial hyperplasias as fluorescent positive lesions. In addition, 12 fluorescence-positive biopsies showing histologically normal urothelium were investigated. Fluorescence in situ hybridization was done using a dual color staining technique of biotinylated centromeric probes of chromosomes 9 and 17 and digoxigenin-labeled gene-specific P1 probes for chromosomes 9q22 (FACC), 9p21(p16/CDKI2), and 17p13(p53). Ten of 14 hyperplasias (70%) showed deletions of chromosome 9. In 7 out of 8 patients with genetic alterations in the hyperplasias the genetic change was also present in the papillary tumor. Six out of 12 samples of microdissected normal urothelium also showed genetic alterations on chromosome 9. Microdissection of urothelial lesions, obtained during AFE, has led to the first unequivocal documentation of genetic changes in urothelial lesions diagnosed as normal in histopathology. Thus, this technical approach is important to provide insight into the earliest molecular alterations in bladder carcinogenesis.