Ionizing radiation is a well-known risk factor for sarcoma development. To investigate whether radiation-associated sarcomas are characterized by chromosome aberrations that distinguish them from de novo sarcomas, we identified those patients in our series of more than 500 cytogenetically abnormal sarcomas that fulfilled the following criteria: (1) each patient should have been irradiated for another malignancy at least 3 years prior to the sarcoma diagnosis, and (2) the sarcoma should have developed within the field of radiation. Ten patients fulfilling these criteria could be retrieved (median age at sarcoma diagnosis was 55 years, range 17-79; median latency period between primary tumor and radiation-associated sarcoma was 9 years, range 4-30). The diagnoses were typical for radiation-associated sarcomas: 2 each of malignant fibrous histiocytoma, leiomyosarcoma, and pleomorphic sarcoma, and 1 each of osteosarcoma, fibrosarcoma, myxofibrosarcoma, and spindle cell sarcoma. All 10 cases had relatively complex karyotypes with multiple, mostly unbalanced, structural rearrangements, similar to what has been reported in de novo sarcomas of the corresponding histologic subtypes. The only cytogenetic features that were unusually frequent among the radiation-associated sarcomas were the finding of unrelated clones in 3 cases, and loss of material from chromosome arm 3p, in particular 3p21-3pter, in 8 cases. Loss of the same chromosome segment has been described in 4 of the 8 previously published cases of radiation-associated sarcomas that have been analyzed after short-term culturing, which makes this imbalance significantly (P < 0.001) more frequent among radiation-associated sarcomas (12 of 18 cases) than among unselected cases of the corresponding histologic subtypes (74 of 282 cases). In contrast to the cytogenetic results, no 3p deletions were detected among the 6 cases of the present series that could be analyzed by comparative genomic hybridization (CGH). The most frequent imbalance detected by CGH was gain of 15cen-q15 (3 cases), followed by loss of chromosome 13 and gain of 5p, and 7cen-q22, each detected in 2 cases.