Studies using comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) indicate that portions of chromosome arm 8q from 8q12 to 8qter are present at an increased relative copy number in a broad range of solid tumors. In this study we define an approximately 1 Mb wide region that appears to be frequently abnormal in copy number or structure in breast cancer cell lines and primary tumors. This was accomplished by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) with yeast artificial chromosomes (YACs) mapped to 8q2-q22. Eleven breast cancer cell lines and ten primary tumors were analyzed. A minimal region of rearrangement was localized to the CEPH-YAC 928F9 in three breast cancer cell lines with unbalanced translocation breakpoints mapping in this region. Unbalanced translocations also were detected in two primary tumors mapping between CEPH-YAC clones 890C4 and 936B3, flanking 928F9. An increased copy number in the minimal region was detected in nine cell lines and in multiple primary tumors. This suggests the possibility that a single gene mapping to 928F9 is involved in breast cancer development or progression and may be deregulated by copy number increases in some tumors and by translocation in others. Four expressed sequence tags were mapped to YAC 928F9 and analyzed for rearrangements by Southern analysis and for abnormal expression by Northern analysis.