We analyzed three Merkel cell carcinomas (MCC), applying comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) with DNA from paraffin-embedded and cultured tumor material as the probes. By this method, numerous changes in chromosome copy numbers were observed in each tumor investigated. Recurrent gains of chromosomes 1, 6, 18q and 20 were detected in two tumors. A third tumor showed complex chromosomal copy number changes, including gain of chromosome 8 and 9. These gains, as well as gain of chromosome 1 in the first two tumors, were confirmed by fluorescence in situ hybridization to paraffin tissue sections. Our results support the view that important genes for MCC development may be located on chromosomes 1, 6, 18q and 20.