All available comparative genomic hybridisation (CGH) analyses (n=31, until 12/2003) of human hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs; n=785) and premalignant dysplastic nodules (DNs; n=30) were compiled and correlated with clinical and histological parameters. The most prominent amplifications of genomic material were present in 1q (57.1%), 8q (46.6%), 6p (22.3%), and 17q (22.2%), while losses were most prevalent in 8p (38%), 16q (35.9%), 4q (34.3%), 17p (32.1%), and 13q (26.2%). Deletions of 4q, 16q, 13q, and 8p positively correlated with hepatitis B virus aetiology, while losses of 8p were more frequently found in hepatitis C virus-negative cases. In poorly differentiated HCCs, 13q and 4q were significantly under-represented. Moreover, gains of 1q were positively correlated with the occurrence of all other high-frequency alterations in HCCs. In DNs, amplifications were most frequently present in 1q and 8q, while deletions occurred in 8p, 17p, 5p, 13q, 14q, and 16q. In conclusion, aetiology and dedifferentiation correlate with specific genomic alterations in human HCCs. Gains of 1q appear to be rather early events that may predispose to further chromosomal abnormalities. Thus, explorative CGH meta-analysis generates novel and testable hypotheses regarding the cause and functional significance of genomic alterations in human HCCs.