We have used 14 DNA probes, which detect 19 different restriction enzyme length polymorphisms, to search for heterozygosity on chromosome 3 in five cell lines isolated from patients with small cell lung carcinoma. The cell lines on karyotype analysis did not show the deletion in chromosome 3 characteristic of this disease. Our objective was to determine if allelic loss had occurred by some chromosomal mechanism other than deletion. Two of the cell lines are consistent with allelic loss having occurred by whole chromosome loss and reduplication. The third may have lost only the short arm due to i(3q) formation. The fourth cell line has an i(3q) chromosome, together with a translocation product involving the distal portion of the short arm of chromosome 3. Lack of evidence of heterozygosity for this distal portion of 3p suggests that a copy of the 3p homologue is involved in the translocation and therefore does not explain allelic loss of of the other homologue. The fifth, while also likely to have lost one chromosome homologue, has a submicroscopic deletion on all chromosome 3s, only detectable by RFLP analysis. Such homozygous deletions have recently proved useful in the isolation of tumour suppressor genes.