To investigate the genomic aberrations that are involved in lung tumorigenesis and therefore may be developed as biomarkers for lung cancer diagnosis, we characterized the genomic copy number changes associated with individual genes in 14 tumors from patients with primary non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Six squamous cell carcinomas (SQCAs) and eight adenocarcinomas (ADCAs) were examined by high-resolution comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) analysis of cDNA microarray. The SQCAs and ADCAs shared common frequency distributions of recurrent genomic gains of 63 genes and losses of 72 genes. Cluster analysis using 57 genes defined the genomic differences between these two major histologic types of NSCLC. Genomic aberrations from a set of 18 genes showed distinct difference of primary ADCAs from their paired normal lung tissues. The genomic copy number of four genes was validated by fluorescence in situ hybridization of 32 primary NSCLC tumors, including those used for cDNA microarray CGH analysis; a strong correlation with cDNA microarray CGH data emerged. The identified genomic aberrations may be involved in the initiation and progression of lung tumorigenesis and, most importantly, may be developed as new biomarkers for the early detection and classification of lung cancer.