Invasive cervical carcinoma is thought to arise from cervical intraepithelial neoplasm (CIN). Genetic changes that occur during progression of CIN to cervical carcinoma are poorly understood, although they appear to be directly involved in this process. We used comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) with precise microdissection and degenerate oligonucleotide primed-polymerase chain reaction (DOP-PCR) to detect genetic alterations in normal epithelial, CIN, and invasive carcinoma tissues colocalized in tumors from 18 patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the uterine cervix. Gains on chromosome 1 and on 3q and losses on 2q, 3p, 4, 6p, 11q, and 17p were frequent alterations found in CIN and invasive carcinoma lesions. Interestingly, several of these genetic changes were observed in preinvasive carcinoma lesions. The frequency and average number of genetic alterations corresponded directly to the extent to which the cervical carcinoma had progressed. Frequent alterations were found in more than 90% of CIN III lesions. Gains on 3q and losses on 11q were the most prevalent genetic alterations found in association with uterine cervix carcinogenesis. The common regions of alteration were 3q26.1-q28 and 11q23-qter. The majority of tumor samples showed variability in genetic alterations across lesion types within a single specimen.