Ordinary lipomas are cytogenetically characterized by a variety of balanced rearrangements involving chromosome segment 12q13-15, whereas well differentiated liposarcomas (WDL) show supernumerary ring and giant marker chromosomes, known to contain amplified 12q sequences. The tight correlation between the presence of ring chromosomes and both amplification and overexpression of MDM2 and CDK4 genes suggests the exploration of the possibility that immunocytochemistry (ICC) might assist in the differential diagnosis of lipoma-like well differentiated liposarcomas (LL-WDL) and large deep-seated lipomas (LDSL). For this purpose, 21 cases of the former and 19 cases of the latter tumours were analysed by ICC and, according to the availability of material, by molecular and cytogenetic approaches. All lipomas displayed a null MDM2/CDK4 phenotype, whereas all LL-WDL showed MDM2/CDK4 or CDK4 phenotypes. Southern blot analysis performed on 16 suitable cases, complemented by fluorescence in situ hybridization and classical cytogenetic analysis in 11 cases, was consistent with, and further supported the immunophenotyping data. In conclusion, MDM2/CDK4 product-based immunophenotyping appears to represent a valuable method for the categorization of arguable LDSL.