Conventional urine cytology has a poor prognostic performance for detecting bladder cancer, particularly for low-grade tumors. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) for chromosomes altered in bladder cancer and testing for antigens selectively expressed in tumors are promising alternatives. This study investigated the use of FISH for detecting aneuploidy of chromosomes 3, 7, 17, and 9p21 and reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) for the expression of melanoma associated antigen (MAGE) genes for the diagnosis of bladder cancer in voided urine specimens. The two techniques were compared with cystoscopic bladder biopsy results in 47 patients with urothelial cancer and 15 patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia. FISH detected cancer in 42 of 47 patients (89.4%). This was significantly higher than the detection rate 30 of 47 patients (64.3%) by MAGE RT-PCR (P < 0.001). The sensitivity of FISH increased with histologic grade and stage of the tumors, correctly identifying 77.8% of pTa and pTis, 94.1% of pT1, and 100% of Pt2-4 tumors. MAGE, however, showed a decreased sensitivity in high grade advanced tumors; it was positive in 66.7% of pTa and pTis, 70.6% of pT1, and 50% of Pt2-4 tumors. Together, the tests correctly identified urothelial cancer in 46 of 47 patients (97.9%). Combined FISH and MAGE RT-PCR testing may offer a promising alternative to conventional urine cytology in screening high-risk populations and in monitoring bladder cancer patients for recurrent tumor.