To define the location of potential oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes in ocular melanoma we carried out comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) analysis on a population-based series of 25 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded primary tumors comprising 17 choroidal, 2 ciliary body, 4 iris, and 2 conjunctival melanomas. Twelve (48%) of the 25 melanomas showed no chromosomal changes and 13 (52%) had at least one chromosomal gain or loss. The mean number of CGH changes in all tumors was 3.3, with similar mean numbers of chromosomal gains (1.5) and losses (1.8). The highest number of chromosomal changes (i.e., nine) occurred in a conjunctival melanoma and included four changes not observed in tumors at any other ocular site (gains in 22q and 11p and losses in 6p and 17p). The most frequent gains in all primary ocular melanomas were on chromosome arm 8q (69%), 6p (31%) and 8p (23%) and the most frequent losses were on 6q (38%), 10q (23%), and 16q (23%). The most common pairing was gain in 8p and gain in 8q, implying a whole chromosome copy number increase; gains in 8p occurred only in conjunction with gains in 8q. The smallest regions of copy number alteration were mapped to gain of 8q21 and loss of 6q21, 10q21, and 16q22. Sublocalization of these chromosomal changes to single-band resolution should accelerate the identification of genes involved in the genesis of ocular melanoma.