We analyzed the amplification of the CAD gene in independently isolated N-(phosphonacetyl)-L-aspartate-resistant clones derived from single parental clones in two mouse cell lines. We report for the first time that the CAD gene is amplified unstably in mouse cells, that the degree of instability varies greatly between clones, and that minute chromosomes and highly unstable chromosomelike structures contain the amplified sequences. These data are most consistent with the idea that the amplified unit in each clone consists of different flanking DNA and that such differences engender amplified sequences with unequal stability. We also introduced the mouse chromosome containing the CAD gene into hamster cells by microcell-mediated chromosome transfer to determine whether the propensity for unstable extrachromosomal amplification of the mouse CAD gene would prevail in the hamster cell nuclear environment. We report that the mouse CAD gene was amplified stably in expanded chromosomal regions in each of seven hybrids that were analyzed. This observation is consistent with the idea that the nuclear environment influences whether mutants containing intra- or extrachromosomally amplified sequences will be isolated.