The frequency of aneuploid cells in cultured prostate carcinoma specimens was investigated. Ploidy distribution of the original tissue was established by flow cytometry (FCM). Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) of chromosome I was applied to directly isolated and cultured cells to investigate whether any modifications in the ploidy distribution of chromosome I took place during tissue culture. In six tumor specimens that were diploid by FCM and FISH, no differences were found in the ploidy distribution of chromosome I before and after tissue culture. In eight tumors that were aneuploid by FISH, the percentage of aneuploid nuclei was significantly reduced from 28.0 +/- 15.0 (range 13-59%) in uncultured cells to 9.1 +/- 4.4 (range 4-18%) after tissue culture. The reduction of aneuploid nuclei ranged from 44 to 85%, which means that the majority of the aneuploid cell populations that were observed in the original specimens were undetectable in cultured samples. This suggests a preferential growth of normal epithelial cells. The data presented can explain the high percentage of diploid karyotypes usually found in short-term cultured prostate carcinoma specimens.