Partner sites of 14q32 translocations found in B-cell malignancies were detected by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) using yeast artificial chromosome (YAC) clones, Y20 and Y6, containing the human Ig heavy chain (IgH) gene locus. Y20 spans a 160-kb upstream and 40-kb downstream region of the JH segments on chromosome band 14q32.33. Y6 is 300-kb upstream of Y20, and spans a further 320-kb telomeric region. The human DNA sequences amplified by Alu polymerase chain reaction of the YAC clones were used as probes for FISH to study six patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), one patient with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and one cell line FR4 established from a plasmacytoma. Three telomeric YAC clones each specific for 3q, 8q, and 18q were also used to further characterize 14q32 translocations. The IgH YACs were successfully applied to detect cytogenetically invisible subtelomeric translocation of the IgH gene locus to each partner site in t(14;18), t(8;14), and t(14;19), and to identify t(3;14) (q27;q32.33) in three patients with 14q32 translocation of unknown origin. Furthermore, complex translocations involving more than three chromosomes were detected in an NHL patient with t(8;14), and t(3;12), and in the FR4 with der(14)t(8;14), der(8)dic(1;8), and del(1)(q21). The technique would be a useful tool in elucidating the mechanisms of a 14q32 translocation in B-cell malignancies.