A wealth of cytogenetic data has demonstrated that numerous somatic genetic changes are involved in the pathogenesis of human lung cancer. Despite the complexity of the genomic changes observed in these neoplasms, recurrent chromosomal patterns have emerged. In this review, we summarize chromosomal alterations identified in small cell and non-small cell lung cancer, using classical and molecular cytogenetic techniques. These analyses have uncovered a set of chromosome regions implicated in lung cancer development and progression. However, many of the target genes remain unknown. Newer technology, such as array-CGH, when combined with cDNA microarrays and tissue microarrays, will facilitate the integration of genomic and gene expression data and pave the way toward a molecular classification of lung carcinomas. The molecular implications of consistent chromosome imbalances found in lung cancer to date are also discussed.