Abstract Refinements in cytogenetic techniques over the past 30 years have allowed the increasingly sensitive detection of chromosome abnormalities in haematological malignancies. In particular, the advent of fluorescence in situ hybridization techniques has provided significant advances in both diagnosis and research of leukaemias. The application of new multicolour karyotyping techniques has allowed the complete dissection of complex chromosome rearrangements and provides the prospect of identifying new recurrent chromosome rearrangements. Both comparative genomic hybridization and interphase fluorescence in situ hybridization avoid the use of metaphase chromosomes altogether and have allowed the genetic analysis of previously intractable targets. Recent developments in comparative genomic hybridization to DNA microarrays provide the promise of high resolution and automated screening for chromosomal imbalances. Rather than replacing conventional cytogenetics, however, these techniques have extended the range of cytogenetic analyses when applied in a complementary fashion.