The abundance of CA/GT repeats in the DNA of the dog (Canis familiaris) has established the importance of polymorphic microsatellites in the development of a low density map of the canine genome. The assignment of linkage groups of markers to chromosomes by physical mapping requires reliable cytogenetic techniques for routine production of metaphase cells. The dog has 78 chromosomes, many of which are smaller and more contracted than those of other mammals. Although the molecular study of inherited disease in dogs has important implications for both improved welfare in dogs and the provision of animal models for human diseases, the small size and large number of chromosomes in the canine genome has discouraged the inclusion of cytogenetic analysis in the planning of relevant research protocols. In this report, Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (FISH) techniques have been optimized for the physical mapping of probes in C. familiaris. A method to obtain a good yield of early and midmetaphases from short-term peripheral blood cultures and the optimal conditions for hybridization and detection of probes is described. Thirteen microsatellite-containing cosmid probes from a canine genomic library in pWE15, a highly repetitive probe (human ribosomal DNA pHr14E3), and a human X Chromosome (Chr) paint have been mapped. Six microsatellites, two ribosomal sites, and the human paint have been assigned to specific chromosomes.