Fluorescence in situ hybridization to metaphase chromosomes or chromatin fibers in interphase nuclei is a powerful technique in mapping genes and DNA segments to specific chromosome region. We have been able to release the chromatin fibers from cells arrested at G1 and G2 phases using different drugs and a simple alkaline lysis procedure. We have also demonstrated specific hybridization of fluorescence-labeled probes to single-copy genomic DNA sequences on the free chromatins. Fluorescence in situ hybridization signals have been detected for sequences separated as close as 21 kilobase pairs and as far as 350 kilobase pairs, with excellent correspondence between the observed and expected distances. The resolution of this technique should approach 10 kilobase pairs and its coverage should span millions of base pairs. Therefore, free chromatin mapping can be generally used to study the structure and organization of mammalian genomes.