To understand the molecular pathogenesis of human lung cancer, we analyzed allelic deletions on the long arm of chromosome 16 by PCR amplification of microsatellite markers. A total of 203 lung cancer specimens (78 squamous cell carcinomas and 125 adenocarcinomas) were analyzed. In both cell types, a common region of allelic loss was identified in 16q24.1-q24.2; it is flanked by the two markers D16S534 and D16S422 that spanned at most 910 kb. These results were confirmed by fluorescence in situ hybridization. There was no correlation between allelic loss and histopathologic diagnosis or clinical stage. These results suggest the existence of a tumor-suppressor gene that plays an important role in the course of carcinogenesis in both squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma of the lungs.