Abstract While chromosome-banding analysis has set the standard for karyotyping from 1970 onwards, fluorescent in situ hybridisation (FISH) has more recently been used to complement the study of chromosomal rearrangements. Especially useful has been the appearance of FISH methodologies with screening abilities, namely comparative genome hybridisation (CGH), multicolour-FISH (m-FISH), and cross-species colour banding (R×FISH). These FISH-based screening techniques are reviewed here together with methodologies using chromosome- or locus-specific probes. Emphasis is put on the strengths and limitations of these FISH techniques to complement standard chromosome banding analysis. Judicious choice from the molecular cytogenetic techniques now available has significantly improved our ability to characterise the genomic rearrangements of cancer cells.