We evaluated the performance of a multiprobe FISH (fluorescence in situ hybridization) assay for noninvasive detection of superficial urothelial carcinoma (UC) in the bladder, in comparison to urinary cytology. Voided urine samples from 74 patients with superficial UC were analyzed by both techniques. Urine samples from 19 patients with muscle-invasive tumors and from 19 healthy control subjects were also studied. For FISH analysis, labeled probes for chromosomes 3, 7, 9, and 17 were used to assess chromosomal abnormalities indicative of malignancy. We found a significant difference between the overall sensitivity of FISH and cytology in superficial UC detection (70.3 versus 35.1%, respectively; P < 0.0001). This significant difference was maintained when superficial UCs were broken down into low grade (52.8 versus 13.9%, respectively; P < 0.0005) and high grade (86.8 versus 55.3%, respectively; P < 0.0015) tumors. Overall specificity was 100% for cytology and 94.7% for FISH (difference not significant). Of patients with suspicious cytology, 69% were positive by FISH. Together, these findings suggest that FISH assay for chromosomes 3, 7, 9, and 17 has a higher sensitivity than cytology and a similar specificity in the detection of superficial UC--which could be useful for reducing some cystoscopies in the accurate follow-up usually performed in these patients.