Comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) was used to screen colorectal carcinomas for chromosomal aberrations that are associated with metastatic phenotype. In total, 63 tumor specimens from 40 patients were investigated, comprising 30 primary tumors, 22 systemic metastases (12 liver, 6 brain, and 4 abdominal wall metastases) and 11 lymph node tumors. Using statistical analysis and histograms to evaluate the chromosomal imbalances, overrepresentations were detected most frequently at 20q11.2-20q13.2, 7q11.1-7q12, 13q11.2-13q14, 16p12, 19p13, 9q34, and 19q13.1-19q13.2. Deletions were prominent at 18q12-18q23, 4q27-4q28, 4p14, 5q21, 1p21-1p22, 21q21, 6q16-6q21, 3p12, 8p22-8p23, 9p21, 11q22, and 14q13-14q21. Hematogenous metastases showed more alterations than lymph node tumors, particularly more deletions at 1p, 3, 4, 5q, 10q, 14, and 21q21 and gains at 1q, 7p, 12qter, 13, 16, and 22q. Comparing liver metastases with their corresponding primary tumors, particularly deletions at 2q, 5q, 8p, 9p, 10q, and 21q21 and gains at 1q, 11, 12qter, 17q12-q21, 19, and 22q were more often observed. The analysis suggested that the different pathways of tumor dissemination are reflected by a nonrandom accumulation of chromosomal alterations with specific changes being responsible for the different characteristics of the metastatic phenotype.