Carcinoma in situ (CIS) or intratubular germ cell neoplasia is generally considered the precursor lesion of adult testicular germ cell tumours (TGCT). The chromosomal imbalances associated with CIS and the corresponding seminoma (SE) or nonseminoma (NS) have been determined by comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) analysis of microdissected material from seven cases. Significantly, the CIS showed no gain of 12p material whereas in the invasive components of all cases gain of 12p was found, in 2 cases associated with amplification of the 12p11.2-12.1 region. Interphase fluorescence in situ analysis was consistent with this and provided evidence for the i(12p) or 12p11.2-12.1 amplification in the SE and NS but not in the corresponding CIS. This suggests a role for these changes in progression of CIS to invasive testicular cancer or progression of the invasive disease. Other imbalances such as gain of material from chromosomes 1, 5, 7, 8, 12q and X and loss of material from chromosome 18 were frequently identified (> 40% of cases) in the CIS associated with both SE and NS as well as in the invasive components. Loss of material from chromosome 4 and 13 and gain of 2p were more frequently found in the invasive components. The results shed light on the genetic relationship between the non-invasive and invasive components of testicular cancer and the stage at which particular chromosomal changes may be important.