The TP-ras transgenic mouse line expresses an activated human T24 Ha-ras gene with a mutation in codon 12, regulated by a mouse tyrosinase promoter. The transgene is expressed in melanocytes of the skin, eyes, and brain. The mice develop cutaneous melanoma when treated with 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene. Cell lines have been generated from the cutaneous tumors and metastatic lesions. By using fluorescence in situ hybridization with mouse whole chromosome paints, the cell lines were characterized for chromosomal abnormalities. Key findings in the tumor cells included translocations of chromosome 4 and alterations in chromosome 6. One tumor cell line contained a double translocation involving chromosomes 3 and 6. To extend the results of the chromosome 4 painting, Southern analysis of the p15INK4B, p16INK4A, and p19INK4D genes was performed. Our data indicated that there were homozygous and partial allelic deletions and polymorphisms in the region of chromosome 4 containing these genes, resulting in the absence or reduced expression of the p16 product. These findings are similar to those reported for human melanoma, and the TP-ras transgenic mouse may therefore be a valuable model for studying novel strategies for melanoma prevention and treatment.