Comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) was employed to study chromosomal aberrations in relation to cell proliferation, apoptosis, and patient survival in 94 cases of B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma diagnosed between 1983 and 1993. Eighty cases had aberrations by CGH. Chromosomal regions 1p21-31.1 (10%), 6cen-q24 (12%), 8p (11%), 9p21-ter (14%), 11q21-23.1 (11%), 13q13-21.1 (12%), and 17p (15%) were frequently lost. Gains were found at 3q21-ter (22%), 6p (11%), 7p (12%), 8q23-ter (13%), 12cen-q15 (17%), 17q24-ter (13%), and 18q13.3-21 (20%). A high number of aberrations (> or = 4, 33 cases) was associated (P < or = 0.001) with the mantle cell and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma subtypes, a high fraction of tumour cells in S phase, and short survival (RR (relative risk) = 3.7). Loss of 1p21-31.1, 8p, 9p21-ter, 11q21-23.1, and 13q13-21.1 were associated with mantle cell lymphoma (P < or = 0.03), while gain of 6p and 12cen-q15 were more frequent in diffuse large B-cell and small lymphocytic lymphoma, respectively (P = 0.04). Loss of 8p and 17p, and gain of 3q21-ter, 6p, 7p, and 8q23-ter were associated with a high S phase fraction (P < or = 0.03), but none of the aberrations were associated with tumour apoptotic fraction (P > or = 0.13). The most important prognostic CGH parameters (P < 0.001) were losses of 11q21-23.1 (RR = 3.8) and 17p (RR = 4.4), and gain of 6p (RR = 4.2). The latter parameters and IPI were the only ones with independent prognostic value (RR = 10, 5.0, 6.7, and 3.7, respectively; P < 0.001) when assessed together with lymphoma sub-type, primary versus relapse cases, treatment, B symptoms, S phase fraction, and presence of BCL1 and BCL2 translocations. A combined CGH/IPI binary parameter had high prognostic value for patients receiving different treatments, with various lymphoma sub-types, and for primary as well as relapse cases.