A straightforward and extremely efficient reverse chromosome painting technique is described which allows the rapid and unequivocal identification of any cytogenetically unclassifiable chromosome rearrangement. This procedure is used to determine the origin of unknown marker chromosomes found at prenatal diagnosis. After microdissection of the marker chromosome and amplification of the dissected fragment by a degenerate oligonucleotide-primed polymerase chain reaction (DOP-PCR), fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) to aberrant and normal metaphase chromosomes with the marker-derived probe pool is performed. With this strategy, marker chromosomes present in amniotic fluid samples were successfully identified in three cases. The origin of the supernumerary markers was ascertained as deriving from 3p(p12-cen), 18p(pter-cen) and 9p(p12-cen), respectively. Since a specific FISH signal on chromosomes can be obtained within 2 working days using a probe generated without any pretreatment from one chromosomal fragment only and without additional image processing devices, this technique is considered to be highly suitable for routine application in pre- and postnatal cytogenetic analysis.