Translocation t(15;19)(q13;p13.1) defines a lethal midline carcinoma arising adjacent to respiratory tract in young people. To characterize molecular alterations responsible for the distinctly aggressive biological behavior of this cancer, we mapped the chromosome 15 and 19 translocation breakpoints by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and Southern blotting. To evaluate preliminarily the frequency, anatomical distribution, and histological features of t(15;19) cancer, we developed a FISH assay for paraffin sections. Our findings reveal a novel oncogenic mechanism in which the chromosome 19 translocation breakpoint interrupts the coding sequence of a bromodomain gene, BRD4. These studies implicate BRD4 as a potential partner in a t(15;19)-associated fusion oncogene. In addition, we localized the chromosome 15 breakpoint to a 9-kb region in each of two cases, thereby identifying several candidate oncogenes which might represent the BRD4 fusion partner. FISH evaluation of 13 pediatric carcinomas revealed t(15;19) in one of four sinonasal carcinomas, whereas this translocation was not detected in thymic (n = 3), mucoepidermoid (n = 3), laryngeal (n = 2), or nasopharyngeal (n = 1) carcinomas. Our studies shed light on the oncogenic mechanism underlying t(15;19) and provide further evidence that this highly lethal cancer arises from respiratory mucosa.