Image cytometry and computer analysis are used to determine the relative DNA content and the DNA-based centromeric index of the 24 chromosomes of the human karyotype. A two-step procedure is used. Chromosomes of cells in metaphase first are stained with quinacrine and identified visually by their fluorescent Q-band patterns. They then are stained for DNA using gallocyanin-chrome alum. The chromosome images are scanned and recorded as digital values of optical density by an CYDAC image cytometric microscope system, CYDAC. The digital images are processed by computer to measure for each chromosome the relative DNA stain contents of the whole chromosome and of the p and q arms and the DNA-based centromeric index. About ten cells are analyzed for each of the donors, who are phenotypically normal men and women. The chromosome measurements are pooled by chromosome type for each donor and are compared among donors. The means of the chromosome measurements give the DNA-based human karyotype. Analysis of the DNA-based data shows that some chromosomes or portions of chromosomes vary significantly among donors. These variants do not correlate with detectable morphologic polymorphisms, such as Q- or C-band variants; thus they represent new and otherwise undetectable chromosome polymorphisms whose genetic basis and clinical significance are yet to be determined.