DNA was extracted from formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded tissues of 85 patients with pediatric malignant solid tumors which had been resected at surgery or obtained at autopsy during a 24-year period. The tumors examined included 25 rhabdomyosarcomas, 12 Wilms' tumors, 10 hepatoblastomas and 37 neuroblastoma group tumors. Neuroblastoma group tumors were subclassified into 25 neuroblastomas and 12 ganglioneuroblastomas among which 6 composite ganglioneuroblastomas were included. Sample blocks were selected from both tumors and normal tissues in the majority of cases. We were able to reliably detect N- and c-myc gene amplification in tumor DNA by dot blot-hybridization. The N-myc gene showed approximately from 3- to 500-fold amplification in 19 of 33 cases of stage IV neuroblastoma group tumor. All of these 33 patients had been intensively treated with chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. The c-myc was amplified 8-fold in 1 case of rhabdomyosarcoma, but neither N-myc nor c-myc was amplified in any cases of Wilms' tumor or hepatoblastoma. We retrospectively examined the association among N-myc gene amplification, prognosis, and histologic subtype in 33 patients with stage IV neuroblastoma group tumors. The survival of the patients with N-myc gene amplification was shorter than that of the patients without amplification of N-myc (p less than 0.05). There was no significant difference in prognosis between the 2 histologic subtypes; neuroblastoma and ganglioneuroblastoma, and the cases of tumors with amplified N-myc showed shorter survivals for each subtype (p less than 0.05). In every case of neuroblastoma group tumor, the copy number of the N-myc gene was the same among primary site and multiple metastatic tumors, even when the lesions showed differences in histologic subtype like neuroblastoma and ganglioneuroblastoma.