Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease type 1A is an inherited peripheral neuropathy characterized by slowly progressive distal muscle wasting and weakness, decreased nerve conduction velocities, and genetic linkage to 17p12. Most (> 98%) CMT1A cases are caused by a DNA duplication of a 1.5-Mb region in 17p12 containing the PMP22 gene. The reciprocal product of the CMT1A duplication is a 1.5-Mb deletion which causes hereditary neuropathy with liability to pressure palsies (HNPP). The most informative current diagnostic testing requires pulsed-field gel electrophoresis to detect DNA rearrangement-specific junction fragments. We investigated the use of interphase FISH for the detection of duplications and deletions for these disorders in the clinical molecular cytogenetics laboratory. Established cell lines or blood specimens from 23 individuals with known molecular diagnoses and 10 controls were obtained and scored using a two-color FISH assay. At least 70% of CMT1A cells displayed three signals consistent with duplications. Using this minimum expected percentile to make a CMT1A duplication diagnosis, all patients with CMT1A showed a range of 71-92% of cells displaying at least three signals. Of the HNPP cases, 88% of cells displayed only one hybridization signal, consistent with deletions. The PMP22 locus from normal control individuals displayed a duplication pattern in approximately 9% of cells, interpreted as replication of this locus. The percentage of cells showing replication was significantly lower than in those cells displaying true duplications. We conclude that FISH can be reliably used to diagnose CMT1A and HNPP in the clinical cytogenetics laboratory and to readily distinguish the DNA rearrangements associated with these disorders from individuals without duplication or deletion of the PMP22 locus.