Both cytogenetic and molecular genetic approaches have unveiled non-random genomic alterations in 1p associated with a number of human malignancies. These have been interpreted to suggest the existence of cancer-related genes in 1p. Earlier studies had employed chromosome analysis or used molecular probes mapped by in situ hybridization. Further, studies of the various tumor types often involved different molecular probes that had been mapped by different technical approaches, like linkage analysis, radioactive or fluorescence in situ hybridization, or by employing a panel of mouse x human radiation reduced somatic cell hybrids. The lack of maps fully integrating all loci has complicated the generation of a comparative and coherent picture of 1p damage in human malignancies even among different studies on the same tumor type. Only recently has the availability of genetically mapped, highly polymorphic loci at (CA)n repeats with sufficient linear density made it possible to scan genomic regions in different types of tumors readily by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with a standard set of molecular probes. This paper aims at presenting an up-to-date picture of the association of 1p alterations with different human cancers and compiles the corresponding literature. From this it will emerge that the pattern of alterations in individual tumor types can be complex and that a stringent molecular and functional definition of the role that Ip alterations might have in tumorigenesis will require a more detailed analysis of the genomic regions involved.