Overexpression of the c-erbB2 protein is observed in a variety of malignancies including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We aimed to determine the rate of c-erbB2-overexpression in our tumour collection and to clarify its correlation with the chromosomal status at the c-erbB2 locus 17q21 in NSCLC. Eighty-nine NSCLC were analysed immunohistochemically using a polyclonal c-erbB2 antibody (DAKO). The staining was scored according to the guidelines of the Clinical Trial Assay recommendations (0-3+). Of these, 44 cases were also analysed by comparative genomic hybridisation (CGH). Overexpression was observed in 37% of the cases (score>1) which was associated with higher disease stages and a positive nodal status in adenocarcinomas. Chromosomal gains at 17q21 were clearly correlated with overexpression of the gene (P=0.009). In addition, there was a highly significant correlation between the c-erbB2 expression comparing the whole section immunostaining analysis and a 127 lung tumour tissue array which included 74 of the 89 cases that were analysed by the classical procedure. We conclude that c-erbB2 is a marker of tumour progression in NSCLC which can be observed on protein level and reflects chromosomal alterations at 17q21.