Human synovial sarcomas contain a recurrent and specific chromosomal translocation t(X;18)(p11.2;q11.2). By screening a synovial sarcoma cDNA library with a yeast artificial chromosome spanning the X chromosome breakpoint, we have identified a hybrid transcript that contains 5' sequences (designated SYT) mapping to chromosome 18 and 3' sequences (designated SSX) mapping to chromosome X. An SYT probe detected genomic rearrangements in 10/13 synovial sarcomas. Sequencing of cDNA clones shows that the normal SYT gene encodes a protein rich in glutamine, proline and glycine, and indicates that in synovial sarcoma rearrangement of the SYT gene results in the formation of an SYT-SSX fusion protein. Both SYT and SSX failed to exhibit significant homology to known gene sequences.