Conventional cytogenetics of breast and other solid tumors has been hampered by a number of factors. An analysis of breast tumor tissues was therefore undertaken using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH). A total of 34 specimens were analyzed using a chromosome 8-specific alpha-satellite probe. Various approaches were tested and compared. Among 30 informative samples, 11 infiltrating ductal carcinomas, not otherwise specified (NOS), 5 ductal carcinomas in situ, 5 lobular carcinomas, 3 papillary carcinomas, and 6 benign lesions were studied. Of the 11 cases of infiltrating ductal carcinomas (NOS) analyzed, four cases showed 3 signals, one case showed 4 signals, and the rest showed 2 signals. Of the 5 cases of ductal carcinoma in situ samples, 1 showed 3 signals and the other 4 cases showed 2 signals. All cases of lobular carcinomas, papillary carcinomas, and benign lesions showed 2 signals. We inferred from these data that 36% of the infiltrating ductal carcinomas (NOS) were trisomic and 9% were tetrasomic, whereas 20% of the ductal carcinomas in situ were trisomic. All samples from lobular carcinomas, papillary carcinomas, and the benign lesions were disomic. From our preliminary data, it can further be concluded that a subset of breast cancer is characterized by chromosome 8 trisomy. These data are consistent with an ever-increasing database on the association of chromosomal 8 trisomy with other cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, prostate cancer, ovarian carcinoma, salivary gland tumor, malignant melanoma, desmoid tumors, and recently gestational trophoblastic disease. It is also noted that the ability to analyze formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded archival material will enable a more comprehensive cytogenetic study of breast cancer than is currently available.