The examination of sequential karyotypes in hematologic disorders has demonstrated that karyotypic changes are often associated with concurrent changes in clinical behavior. Acquired abnormalities that recur among different patients may also suggest genomic areas important to tumor progression. We therefore examined sequential karyotypes in 21 patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Sixteen of the 21 karyotypes demonstrated changes, including the majority of 6 small lymphocytic, 11 follicular, and 4 intermediate and high-grade diffuse lymphomas. The t(14;18)(q32;q21) occurred in ten initial karyotypes was retained in all cases. The band most frequently affected by newly acquired abnormalities was 14q32 (n = 5); chromosomes 1 and 2 (n = 5, each), and the 17p arm (n = 4) were also commonly affected. The acquired deletion of all or part of 17p appeared to be associated with a poor prognosis. Histologic transformation and karyotypic change did not correlate. This study of sequential karyotypes in NHL 1) confirms the primary importance of the t(14;18), 2) suggests that the 14q32 band is involved frequently in both primary and secondary cytogenetic events, and 3) suggests other genomic regions of potential significance to progression.