We have examined 62 prostatic adenocarcinomas by conventional cytogenetic analysis. Most were primary cultures harvested in 14 days or less. The most consistent finding was a normal male diploid karyotype, found in 87% of all cells analyzed, and as the exclusive finding in 19 tumors. Nonrandom chromosomal changes included gain of chromosome 7 and loss of the Y chromosome. In addition, clonal gains of chromosomes 8, 12, and 18, and clonal losses of chromosomes 14 and 19 were noted in individual cases. Two structural clonal aberrations, a 9p+ in one case and a t(Y;22) (q11.2;p12) in another, were also seen. Ten of 62 cultures demonstrated chromosome instability, defined herein as nonclonal gain or loss of chromosomes in more than 10% of the metaphases examined from that culture. In those cases with nonclonal numerical aberrations, loss of chromosomes was more common than gain. The distribution of apparently random numeric abnormalities was similar to that of the clonal abnormalities in that the most frequent nonclonal gain was of chromosome 7 and the most frequent nonclonal loss was of the Y chromosome. Apparently random structural aberrations were observed in less than 1% of all analyzed cells. These included a 4p-,del(3)(q13), and t(1;11). The extent of apparently random aneuploidy suggests that chromosome instability characterizes cultured prostatic adenocarcinomas. An increase in the frequency of nonclonal aberrations may be an indicator of tumor origin in a predominantly diploid cell population. The coexistence of clonally aberrant, nonclonally aberrant, and normal diploid cells in culture may reflect heterogeneity of prostate tumors in vivo.