Cytogenetic analysis of ten primary non-small cell lung carcinomas (NSCLC), including five adenocarcinomas (ADC), three squamous cell (SQC), and two large cell (LCC) carcinomas has been carried out in an attempt to determine karyotype changes involved in the early stage of disease. The tumors were all aneuploid and exhibited complex karyotypes with multiple structural and numerical abnormalities. Clonal structural rearrangements were identified and in particular loss of material from the short arm of chromosome 9 had a 90% incidence. This loss was due to non-reciprocal translocation, deletion, or chromosome loss. Breakpoints were in the region 9q13 to p22. Other chromosome regions that were non-randomly involved are as follows: I cen to p13, 3p, 5q11 to q13, 6p, 6q15 to q27, 7p, 8p, 11q12 to q23, 13p, 14p, 15p, 17p, and 19p. While a primary cytogenetic change in NSCLC has not been identified conclusively, our findings implicate loss of material from 9p as a potentially important event.