Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) is a powerful tool for detection of numerical and structural chromosomal aberrations. We have compared conventional banding techniques and FISH for the detection of monosomy 7 (-7) and trisomy 8 (+8) in 89 patients with myeloid malignancies. Of these patients, 21 had -7, 30 had +8, four had both, and 34 had no aberrations or aberrations other than -7 or +8 as assessed by banding techniques. Sequential samples were available in 23 patients. Alphoid DNA probes specific for chromosomes no. 7 and 8 were used for FISH. As controls, 10 normal bone marrow (BM) samples were hybridized with the chromosomes no. 7 and 8 probes, and in addition all tumor samples were hybridized with a chromosome no. 1 specific probe. The cut-off value for -7 was 18% one-spot cells, and for +8 was 3% three-spot cells. FISH analysis of 44 samples with -7 or +8, and at least 10 metaphases evaluated, showed that the proportions of aberrant metaphase cells mirrored the interphase clone sizes. Most samples with nonclonal metaphase aberrations, including those with only a few metaphases, had increased numbers of aberrant interphase cells: 20% to 80% for -7, and 3% to 43% for +8. Interphase cytogenetics of the 34 samples without -7 or +8 did not show significant cell populations with -7 or +8. In four patients, -7 or +8 could not be confirmed by FISH due to additional structural aberrations, marker chromosomes, or wrongly interpreted banding results. As FISH will be used more and more in cytogenetic diagnosis, clinical follow-up, and therapy monitoring, it will be necessary to standardize FISH procedures and supplement the Standing Committee on Human Cytogenetic Nomenclature (ISCN) definitions of a clone with criteria specifically for in situ hybridization.