In recent years, significant progress has been made in identifying characteristic chromosomal rearrangements associated with several solid tumor types, notably sarcomas, a relatively rare subset of human cancer. Most sarcomas analyzed have been found to be characterized by recurrent chromosome translocations that are specific to histological types. We have reviewed published reports of chromosomal aberrations in benign and malignant soft tissue tumors and found an incidence of specific translocations in these neoplasms that ranged from 20% to 93% within histological tumor types. Identification of recurrent chromosomal abnormalities in benign tumors has resulted in a reappraisal of the general concept that benign tumors have a normal (diploid) chromosome constitution. The variety of recurrent changes present in the different tumor types attests to the cytogenetic diversity inherent in these tumors. The chromosomal rearrangements in each of the tumor types were unique and did not correspond to cancer-associated aberrations known from other solid or hematopoietic malignancies. Cytogenetics thus provides an essential adjunct to diagnostic surgical pathology in the case of malignant soft tissue tumors, which often present substantial diagnostic challenges. In addition, it represents another approach to determine the histogenetic origin of some tumors and identifies sites of gene deregulation for molecular analysis. Indeed, recent molecular analyses of several sarcoma-associated translocations have identified novel genes and novel mechanisms of their dysregulation.