A deletion analysis of chromosome 3 was conducted in 72 cases of transitional cell carcinoma of the urinary bladder using seven microsatellites spanning the 3p arm and two additional microsatellites in 3q. Results showed that 19 of 72 (26.4%) cases had deletions in one or more 3p regions. Two regions of frequent deletion were identified: 3p12-14 and 3p21-23. Less frequent deletions at 3p24.2-25 were also observed. Deletions at 3p were weakly correlated with tumor grade, but strongly with pathological stage. Among 70 cases with histological grade available, 4 of 29 (13.8%) grade 1 and 2 tumors, and 15 of 41 (36.6%) grade 3 tumors showed allelic losses in one or more of the 3p regions studied (P = 0.055). Among 69 cases with pathological stage available, none of 27 superficial carcinomas (pTa, pTis, and pT1) showed 3p deletions, whereas 18 of 42 (42.9%) muscle invasive lesions (pT2, pT3, and pT4) displayed allelic losses at 3p (P < 0.001). In addition, 12 cases showed microsatellite instability, but there was no correlation between abnormalities and tumor grade or stage. No correlation was found between deletions at 3p21-23 and microsatellite instability. In conclusion, deletions at three discrete regions of 3p were identified in bladder carcinoma, suggesting the involvement of candidate tumor suppressor genes residing in these regions. Moreover, detection of allelic losses in these regions was associated with higher tumor grade and more advanced stage, suggesting their potential involvement in bladder tumor progression.