Comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) was used to clarify the chromosomal status of 15 patients diagnosed with childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Bone marrow samples from 10 of the 15 patients were selected because no metaphases were obtained for cytogenetic analysis. Three patients with normal trypsin and giemsa banding (GTG) karyotypes were also studied by CGH to determine whether significant abnormalities might have been missed by banding analysis, and samples from an additional 2 patients with hyperdiploidy were also included. Seven of the 10 patients with failed GTG banding analysis were found to be chromosomally abnormal by CGH; 2 out of 3 patients with normal GTG band karyotypes were abnormal, indicating that the metaphases available for karyotyping were not malignant cells, and that CGH analysis of hyperdiploid samples provided more accurate resolution than karyotyping alone. The prognostic value of chromosomal aberrations detected by CGII and the efficiency of the technique suggest a central role for CGH in routine clinical cytogenetics.