Chondrosarcomas are malignant cartilage-forming tumors that represent the second most common malignant solid tumor of bone. These biologically poorly understood neoplasms vary considerably in clinical presentation and biologic behavior. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are generally ineffective. Here we describe the establishment and characterization of a new human chondrosarcoma cell line named ch-2879, and we compare the cell line with its tumor of origin. The cell line was established from a recurrent grade 3 chondrosarcoma of the chest wall and characterized by growth kinetics and morphologic studies. Immunocytochemistry and RT-PCR were performed to examine the expression of cartilage-specific phenotypes. Genetic characterization was performed using cytogenetics, fluorescence in situ hybridization, flow cytometry, and molecular techniques for analysis of the genes implicated in cell cycle control, amplification of MDM2, CDK4, and Cyclin D1, and mutations in the p53 gene. ch-2879 cells were subcultured for more than 80 passages. They expressed vimentin, HNK-1, HBA-71, Ki-67, cyclin D1, Fli-1, S-100, p21, p27, and p53 and were negative for cytokeratin, EMA, p14, p16, MDM2, Rb, and c-erb-b2 antigens. Cytogenetically the recurrent tumor showed a hyperhaploid karyotype with clonal numerical and structural abnormalities. The sole structural abnormality was a chromosome derivative of a t(1;21) translocation. The cell line at passage 3 showed two populations: the hyperhaploid and an exactly duplicated, hypotriploid population. After the 18th passage, only the hypotriploid population was present. The cells expressed collagen 2. Molecular comparison of the primary and recurrent tumor evidenced an in vivo molecular change consisting of a deletion of 9p21 genes in the recurrence, probably caused by a selection process. Because of its gene expression profile, including expression of genes implicated in chondrogenesis in uncoated plastic dishes, this cell line may prove useful for cellular and molecular studies as well as studies of chondrosarcoma characterization and treatment.