The evolutionary history of human chromosome 20 in primates was investigated using a panel of human BAC/PAC probes spaced along the chromosome. Oligonucleotide primers derived from the sequence of each human clone were used to screen horse, cat, pig, and black lemur BAC libraries to assemble, for each species, a panel of probes mapping to chromosomal loci orthologous to the loci encompassed by the human BACs. This approach facilitated marker-order comparison aimed at defining marker arrangement in primate ancestor. To this goal, we also took advantage of the mouse and rat draft sequences. The almost perfect colinearity of chromosome 20 sequence in humans and mouse could be interpreted as evidence that their form was ancestral to primates. Contrary to this view, we found that horse, macaque, and two New World monkeys share the same marker-order arrangement from which the human and mouse forms can be derived, assuming similar but distinct inversions that fully account for the small difference in marker arrangement between humans and mouse. The evolutionary history of this chromosome unveiled also two centromere repositioning events in New World monkey species.