Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) tumors frequently display deletions on the short arm of chromosome 3 suggesting the existence of a 'tumor suppressor' gene within that region whose functional inactivation may be involved in tumorigenesis. Recently, a hybrid, HA(3)BB9F, was identified that contains a small fragment of human chromosome 3 of approximately 2 Mb on a mouse (A9) background (Killary et. al., 1992). This hybrid was utilized to define a functional tumor suppressor gene within 3p22-p21 which could suppress the tumorigenic properties of the mouse fibrosarcoma cell line. The existence of a tumor suppressor gene in the region 3p22-p21 is supported by the present report which describes the assessment of 89 SCLC and 32 non-SCLC lung cancer tumors and cell lines for the existence of a homozygous deletion(s) at 43 loci on the short arm of chromosome 3. One of the SCLC cell lines was found to harbor a homozygous deletion involving the loss of five markers on chromosome 3p. All five of the markers map to the region 3p21.3-p21.2 and four of the five markers are located within the chromosome 3 fragment exhibiting properties of tumor suppression in the HA(3)BB9F hybrid. The other tumors analysed all retained at least one copy of each of the markers assessed.