Combining high resolution in situ hybridization with quantitative solid state imaging, we show that human metaphase chromosome Giemsa/Quinacrine and Reverse bands are each characterized by distinct families of interspersed repeated sequences: the SINES, Alu family dominates in Reverse bands, and the LINES, L1 family dominates in Giemsa/Quinacrine positive bands. Alu is 56% guanine plus cytosine, and L1 is 58% adenine plus thymine, and each may comprise 13%-18% of the total DNA in a chromosome band. Therefore, the distribution of these sequences alone may account for a large part of human chromosome banding seen with fluorescent dyes. With the exception of some telomeric regions, and the chromosomal regions of simple sequence DNA, Alu and L1 are precisely inversely distributed, suggesting an inverse functional relationship. This finding links genome organization with chromosome structure and function.