While much information has been reported on the genetic alterations in breast cancers of Caucasians, little is known about the Oriental populations where breast cancers currently rank the second most common neoplasm. As a first step toward understanding the underlying genetics changes in this population, we used comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) to the genome-wide analysis of forty pT2 tumors from patients of a racially homogenous population in southern China. A complex pattern of genetic alterations emerged with the commonest chromosomal gains identified on 1q (58%), 8q (55%), 11q13 (25%), 16p (28%), 17q (53%) and 20q (35%), and frequent losses on 8p (38%), 11q (28%), 13q (30%) and 18q (25%). When breast cancers with and without lymph-node metastasis were compared, a higher copy gain of 10p was identified in the node-positive group (P=.036). An overall increase in the average number of genetic aberrations was also identified in the late onset group (>45 years)(P=.042) with a higher incidence of genetic losses noted (P=.035). In particular, losses on 16q were detected in 30% of the late onset patients but none in the early onsets (P=0.049). In this study, we have illustrated the pattern of genetic changes in breast tumors of southern Chinese females. While frequent 1q, 8q, 17q and 20q gains, and common 8p and 13q deletions detected were consistent to those aberrations reported from the Caucasian populations, the difference in genetic changes associated in lymph-node metastasis and age of onset identified should provide the basis for additional investigations into the underlying tumorigenesis in the Oriental population.