Gene amplification is one of the basic mechanisms that lead to overexpression of oncogenes. DNA array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) has great potential for comprehensive analysis of both a relative gene-copy number and altered chromosomal regions in cancers, which enables us to identify new amplified genes and unstable chromosomal loci. We examined the amplification status in 32 esophageal squamous cell carcinomas (ESCCs) and 13 ESCC cell lines on 51 frequently amplified loci in a variety of cancers by both DNA array CGH and Southern blot analyses. The 1p34 locus containing MYCL1, 2p24 (MYCN), 7p12 (EGFR), and 12q14 (MDM2) were amplified in one of the 32 cases (3%), and the 17q12 locus (ERBB2) and 8p11 (FGFR1) in two of the 32 cases (6%), while only the 11q13 locus (Cyclin D1, FGF4, and EMS1) was frequently amplified (28%, 9/32), demonstrating this locus to be a major target in ESCCs. One locus, 8q24 (c-MYC) was found to be amplified only in the cell lines. Eight out of 51 loci (15.7%) were found to be amplified in at least one of the 32 primary ESCCs or the 13 ESCC cell lines, suggesting that chromosomal loci frequently amplified in a type of human cancer may also be amplified in other types of cancers. This paper is the first report of an application of DNA array CGH to ESCCs.