The karyotype of the Japanese mountain hawk-eagle (Nisaetus nipalensis orientalis) (2n = 66) consists of a large number of medium-sized and small chromosomes but only 4 pairs of dot-shaped microchromosomes, in contrast to the typical avian karyotype with a small number of macrochromosomes and many indistinguishable microchromosomes. To investigate the drastic karyotype reorganization in this species, we performed a molecular cytogenetic characterization employing chromosome in situ hybridization and molecular cloning of centromeric heterochromatin. Cross-species chromosome painting with chicken chromosome-specific probes 1-9 and Z and a paint pool of 20 microchromosome pairs revealed that the N. n. orientalis karyotype differs from chicken by at least 13 fissions of macrochromosomes and 15 fusions between microchromosomes and between micro- and macrochromosomes. A novel family of satellite DNA sequences (NNO-ApaI) was isolated, consisting of a GC-rich 173-bp repeated sequence element. The NNO-ApaI sequence was localized to the C-positive centromeric heterochromatin of 4 pairs of microchromosomes, which evolved concertedly by homogenization between the microchromosomes. These results suggest that the 4 pairs of dot-shaped microchromosomes have retained their genomic compartmentalization from other middle-sized and small chromosomes.