cDNA microarray analysis was used to screen for gene expression alterations in human osteosarcoma cell lines. The analysis using three cell lines revealed changes in the expression of several genes in comparison with normal human osteoblasts. Among the 5,184 sequences that were analyzed, 35 showed aberrant expression in all the cell lines. Eight of these showed overexpression and 27 underexpression compared to their expression levels in osteoblasts. The most highly up-regulated genes included heat shock protein 90beta and polyadenylate-binding protein-like 1. Commonly down-regulated genes included fibronectin 1 and thrombospondin 1. RT-PCR was used to verify these changes in the cell lines and in three primary osteosarcoma samples. This study shows that (1) gene expression pattern in osteosarcoma cell lines differs considerably from normal osteoblasts, (2) osteosarcoma cell lines can be used as a model system to detect novel gene expression alterations present in primary tumors, (3) the overexpression of heat shock protein 90beta and polyadenylate-binding protein-like 1, and (4) the down-regulation of fibronectin 1 and thrombospondin 1 may play a role in the development and/or progression of osteosarcoma. This study indicates that microarray-based expression surveys may be used to establish the molecular fingerprint of osteosarcoma, however, larger cDNA chips and more tumor specimens are required to define the clinically relevant gene expression patterns.