Microsatellites are unique highly polymorphic and informative genetic markers dispersed in the human genome. Their detection by PCR is rapid and a wide variety of DNA sources including archival material are available for diagnostic purposes. Microsatellite typing of haematological neoplasms may be applied to the search for loss of heterozygosity at loci possibly harbouring tumour suppressor genes, for example in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. The technique may detect submicroscopical chromosomal deletions which are not visible in the leukaemic karyotype. RER+ tumours exhibiting microsatellite instability appear to be rare among haematological cancers with the possible exception of lymphoid tumours in immunosuppressed patients and lymphomas derived from mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue. An X-chromosomal microsatellite near the human androgen receptor gene (HUMARA) may be used for clonal X-inactivation analysis. Microsatellites therefore represent a collection of powerful genetic markers suitable to tackle questions relevant to basic research and clinical problems in leukaemia and lymphoma.