Recent evidence suggests that focal nodular hyperplasia of the liver (FNH) may represent a hyperplastic response to a vascular malformation, but the precise etiology remains unclear. We performed a clonal analysis of ten FNHs from nine patients by patterns of X chromosome inactivation. DNA isolated from paraffin-embedded specimens was subjected to polymerase chain reaction amplification for a highly polymorphic region of the human androgen receptor gene (HUMARA). Predigestion of tumor DNA with the methylation-sensitive, restriction enzyme HpaII allowed for selective amplification of the methylated (inactivated) allele. Of the nine patients analyzed, seven were heterozygous for the HUMARA polymorphism and informative for analysis. One informative patient had two lesions, for a total of eight FNHS. Amplification of lesional DNA after HpaII digestion demonstrated clonality in six of the eight informative cases. Paired tissue samples from different lesional areas were available in four of the six FNHs with evidence of clonality. In three of the four cases, DNA extracted from the two tissue samples showed both evidence of clonality and an identical pattern of X chromosome inactivation. In the remaining case, one sample showed evidence of clonality whereas the other was nonclonal. Three hepatic adenomas from two informative patients were also analyzed for comparative purposes, all of which showed evidence of clonality after HpaII digestion. The current study illustrates that most cases of FNH show a uniform pattern of X chromosome inactivation consistent with clonality.