In this paper, we show that the same panel of three microsatellite markers is useful for the detection of alterations in the DNA of tumor cells and plasma from patients diagnosed with SCLC and NSCLC. In 31% of the SCLC patients, we detected a microsatellite alteration(s) or LOH in at least one locus. In the group of patients diagnosed with NSCLC, a microsatellite alteration or LOH was detected in at least one locus in 33% of the patients. In all but 2 patients, the identical alteration observed in the DNA from tumor cells was also detected in the DNA isolated from blood plasma. This work confirms the results described by other groups and it extends the diagnostic possibilities of finding tumor cell-specific DNA alterations also in the DNA freely circulating in plasma and serum of patients with cancer.