Multiple genetic alterations are believed to be involved in the pathogenesis of nasopharyngeal carcinomas (NPC). Loss of heterozygosity (LOH) of chromosomes 3p, 9p and 11q were previously reported in NPC. In order to further define the genetic alterations in NPC, 42 pairs of normal and tumor DNA of NPC were examined for LOH on chromosomes 5p, 5q, 6q, 14q, 15q, 16p, 16q, 17q using 16 polymorphic microsatellite markers. Frequent LOH (33%; 7 out of 21 cases) was observed in chromosome 14q at locus D14s81 (14q31). In order to define the common region of deletion, nine polymorphic microsatellite markers on 14q were examined for LOH in NPC. A common region of deletion was defined in NPC at chromosome 14q24.3-q32.1 flanked by two microsatellite markers D14s76 and D14s45. The common region of deletion (14q24.3-32.1) identified in NPC overlapped with the deleted regions of 14q reported in several human cancers. In 2 cases of NPC, the pattern of LOH revealed the presence of another commonly deleted region defined by loci D14s63 and D14s69 (mapped to 14q11.1-24.1) and located proximal to locus D14s76(14q24.3). This study suggests that multiple tumor suppressor genes present on chromosome 14q are involved in the pathogenesis of NPC.