Deletion of chromosome arm 1p and amplification of the MYCN oncogene are well-recognized genetic alterations in neuroblastoma cells. Recently, another alteration has been reported; gain of the distal part of chromosome arm 17q. In this study 48 neuroblastoma tumours were successfully analysed for 17q status in relation to known genetic alterations. Chromosome 17 status was detected by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). Thirty-one of the 48 neuroblastomas (65%) showed 17q gain, and this was significantly associated with poor prognosis. As previously reported, 17q gain was significantly associated with metastatic stage 4 neuroblastoma and more frequently detected than both deletion of chromosome arm 1p and MYCN amplification in tumours of all stages. 17q gain also showed a strong correlation to survival probability (P = 0.0009). However, the most significant correlation between 17q gain and survival probability was observed in children with low-stage tumours (stage 1, 2, 3 and 4S), with a survival probability of 100% at 5 years from diagnosis for children with tumours showing no 17q gain compared to 52.5% for those showing 17q gain (P = 0.0021). This suggests that 17q gain as a prognostic factor plays a more crucial role in low-stage tumours. Expression of the somatostatin receptor 2 (SSTR2), localized in chromosome region 17q24, has in previous studies been shown to be positively related to survival in neuroblastoma. A point mutation in the SSTR2 gene has earlier been reported in a human small-cell lung cancer. In this study, mutation screening of the SSTR2 gene in 43 neuroblastoma tumours was carried out with polymerase chain reaction-based single-stranded conformation polymorphism/heteroduplex (SSCP/HD) and DNA sequencing, and none of the tumours showed any aberrations in the SSTR2 gene. These data suggest that mutations in the SSTR2 gene are uncommon in neuroblastoma tumours and do not correlate with either the 17q gain often seen or the reason some tumours do not express SSTR2 receptors. Overall, this study indicates that gain of chromosome arm 17q is the most frequently occurring genetic alteration, and that it is associated with established prognostic factors.