Uterine leiomyoma--a benign smooth muscle tumor--has recently been found to contain tumor-specific chromosome aberrations. Although only normal karyotypes were detected in 50 to 80% of cytogenetically investigated tumors, 104 leiomyomas with karyotypic aberrations have already been reported. At least four cytogenetically abnormal subgroups have been identified thus far, characterized by rearrangements of 6p, del(7)(q21.2q31.2), +12, and t(12;14)(q14-15;q23-24). The remaining abnormal tumors have had various nonrecurrent anomalies. Secondary karyotypic rearrangements, sometimes including ring chromosomes, have been found in one-third and reflect clonal evolution. Occasional leiomyomas have contained multiple numerical and structural rearrangements. Though benign, these cytogenetically grossly aberrant tumors often displayed more atypical histological features than are usually seen in leiomyoma. Multiple leiomyomas have been investigated from 69 patients, with detection of chromosome anomalies in at least two separate tumors from the same uterus in ten cases. In half of these patients unrelated aberrations were found in different leiomyomas from the same uterus. On other occasions the aberrations were identical, indicating that although some uterine leiomyomas originate independently, others may develop by intra-myometrial spreading from a common neoplastic clone. Some common features are discernible between the karyotypic pictures of uterine leiomyoma and angioleiomyoma; rearrangements of 6p, 13q, and 21q have been described in both tumor types. The cytogenetic similarities so far detected between leiomyoma and the malignant muscle tumors--leiomyosarcoma and rhabdomyosarcoma--are few and may be fortuitous. The cytogenetic profiles of leiomyoma and lipoma are strikingly similar; both tumor types have nonrandom rearrangements of 12q13-15, t(12;14) in leiomyoma and t(3;12) in lipoma, as well as variant rearrangements of the same 12q segment. Both also have cytogenetic subgroups characterized by changes in 6p and ring chromosomes. Finally, karyotypic similarities exists also between leiomyoma and pleomorphic adenoma of the salivary gland, which includes a subset of tumors with anomalies of 12q13-15, and with myxoid liposarcoma, which has t(12;16)(q13;p11) as a tumor-specific rearrangement.