Pulmonary chondroid hamartomas (PCH) are benign tumors of the lung characterized by a more or less high degree of mesenchymal metaplasia. In our series we investigated 30 PCH by a combination of cytogenetic and molecular methods. 18 tumors (60%) had cytogenetically detectable aberrations involving either 12q14-15 or 6p21 with a clear predominance of chromosomal abnormalities involving 12q14-15 (15 tumors). As in subgroups of pleomorphic adenomas of the salivary glands, leiomyomas of the uterus, and lipomas with 12q14-15 abnormalities the HMGI-C gene is frequently rearranged we tested PCH with either 12q14-15 abnormalities or normal karyotype by FISH and 3' RACE experiments for rearrangements of HMGI-C. Rearrangements were found in all cases with chromosomal 12q14-15 abnormalities and further six cases with an apparently normal karyotype. By the combination of cytogenetics with molecular techniques the percentage of cases with intragenic rearrangements of HMGI-C or rearrangements of its immediate surrounding was thus increased to 70% (21/30 cases). Considering all types of aberrations within this series 80% (24/30) of all PCH were aberrant. This is the first report on a combined molecular and cytogenetic analysis of a large series of pulmonary chondroid hamartomas indicating that rearrangements of HMGI-C, a member of the high mobility group protein gene family, are the leading molecular events in the genesis of PCH.