Comparative genomic hybridisation has been used to map copy number changes in nine cases of ductal carcinoma in situ of the breast obtained from wax-embedded archive material. A wide variety of abnormalities were detected including gain of regions of 1q, 17q, 19q, 20p and 20q and loss on 13q, 14q, 17p, 16q and 22q. Amplification of areas on 10p, 8q and 20q were also observed. Chromosomal alterations were more frequent in higher grade DCIS and closely resemble those previously detected in invasive breast cancer using the same technique. These data provide strong molecular support for the view that DCIS is a precursor lesion of invasive breast carcinoma.