A common amplification target encompassing chromosome region 3q25 to q27 has been identified by comparative genomic hybridization analyses in tumors of the cervix, ovary, endometrium, lung, and head and neck. Because this segment spans at least 30 megabases, we undertook a molecular analysis of copy number to more precisely define the amplification domain. Our Southern blot and fluorescence in situ hybridization results with the use of 17 markers confirmed the presence of low-level 3q amplification events in cervical, ovarian, and variant SCLC tumors. Most of the tumor types studied appeared to have similar, broad amplification domains centered within 3q26.2, suggesting that the same target is being affected in all. The ovarian carcinoma cell line NIH:OVCAR3 had a highly restricted amplification domain spanned by four overlapping YAC clones, suggesting a small target. The region of highest amplification included the gene for the RNA component of telomerase (hTR), supporting it as a potential target. Although the importance of low-level amplification is unknown, the consistent and reproducible nature of this event in a variety of carcinomas suggests that 3q26.2 harbors an oncogene whose low-level amplification has a significant influence on tumor biology.