Amplification of genes in the 12q13-15 region occurs frequently in several malignancies including osteosarcoma. The products of these amplified genes are thought to provide cancer cells with a selective growth advantage; however, the specific gene(s) driving this amplicon is unknown. We have previously shown that the SAS gene is amplified in most parosteal osteosarcomas. In this study we analysed additional putative growth regulatory genes in this chromosomal region in 24 primary osteosarcoma specimens. CDK4 and SAS were coamplified in 6/6 parosteal tumors, and MDM2 was also amplified in 4/5 parosteal cases. In comparison, amplification occurred in only 2/16 classical intramedullary osteosarcomas and involved the SAS gene. Each amplified gene had a correspondingly elevated mRNA level. Four high grade intramedullary tumors had elevated mRNA expression of SAS, but did not exhibit gene amplification. Gene amplification/overexpression was not associated with metastatic disease and did not change markedly with tumor progression, as evidenced by analysis of sequential tumor specimens from eight patients. Three other genes in the 12q13-15 region (CDK2, WNT1 and WNT10b) were not amplified in any of the tumors. The different patterns of gene amplification and overexpression of CDK4, SAS and MDM2 in parosteal and intramedullary osteosarcomas may help explain the disparity in the biological behaviour of these two types of osteosarcoma.