Cigarette smoke creates a field of injury in the epithelial lining of the entire respiratory tract causing an increased risk for the development of malignant lesions. It is conceivable, therefore, that early genetic alterations, can be detected in oral mucosa of heavy smokers mainly those affected by lung cancer. As aneuploidy was shown to be an early event in oral carcinogenesis, we aimed to investigate the prevalence of aneuploid cells (ACs) in samples obtained from apparently normal looking oral mucosa of heavy smokers affected by lung cancer (LC). Two brush samples were collected from the oral mucosa of 152 subjects; 31 heavy smokers with LC, 59 heavy smokers without LC and 62 never-smokers. The samples were simultaneously analyzed for morphology and fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) using chromosomes 2 and 8 centromeric probes. Over 2% ACs were found in 23% of heavy smokers with LC compared to 12% in heavy smokers without LC and 5% of the never-smokers group (P=0.015). A trend was also noticed when comparing the group of heavy smokers without LC with the never-smokers (P=0.198). We conclude that heavy smokers harbour detectable chromosomal numerical aberrations in oral epithelial cells of normal looking mucosa. These aberrations are more frequently found in heavy smokers affected by LC.