Distal alterations of the short arm of chromosome 1 are among the most frequent cytogenetic abnormalities in human breast carcinoma. We studied 96 primary human breast carcinomas for allelic imbalance using a panel of 31 polymorphic microsatellite, restriction fragment length polymorphism, and variable number of tandem repeat markers located mainly in the 1p32-pter region. Allelic imbalance at one or more loci was observed on the short arm of chromosome 1 in 56 (58.3%) of the 96 tumors. The 56 1p-altered tumor DNAs showed loss of heterozygosity (LOH), 12 (21.4%) at all informative loci tested and 44 (78.6%) at some loci. The LOH pattern of these 44 partially deleted tumors identified two distinct consensus regions of deletion on 1p32-pter (1p36.3 and 1p32). These regions match those described by other investigators but are considerably smaller. The 1p32 band is located within one of the two 1p regions of LOH in neuroblastoma, suggesting the involvement of the same unidentified tumor suppressor gene in both human breast cancer and neuroblastoma. The candidate tumor suppressor genes TNFR2, RIZ, DAN, RAP1GA1, FGR, MDGI, EXTL, and hRAD54 were excluded from the two consensus regions of deletion identified at 1p32-pter. Analysis of six polymorphic markers chosen to map within the other deleted regions described in breast tumors confirmed that two additional breast tumor suppressor genes are located in the proximal part (1p22 and 1p13) of chromosome arm 1p. Taken together, these results suggest that several unknown suppressor genes on 1p might be involved in the development of breast cancer. The refinement of the regions of LOH to within a few cM, and the recent publication of transcript maps of the human genome, mean that candidate genes and expressed sequence tags mapping to these deleted regions can now be investigated.