Two hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase-deficient human cell lines, D98/AH-2 and HT1080-6TG, were stably transfected with pSV2 gpt, a plasmid containing the selectable marker Escherichia coli xanthine-guanine phosphoribosyl transferase (Eco gpt). Hypoxanthine-aminopterin-thymidine-resistant transformants arose with a frequency of ca. 10(-6) and contained mostly single, but occasionally multiple, copies of the plasmid sequences. These transformants actively express the Eco gpt marker. Single chromosomes from two different HT1080 gpt transformants and one D98 gpt transformant, containing the integrated plasmid sequences, were transferred via microcell-mediated chromosome transfer to hypoxanthine phosphoribosyl transferase-deficient mouse A9 cells. The transferred human chromosomes were identified as 2, 4, and 22, by using a combination of G-11 staining, G-banding, isoenzyme analysis, and in situ hybridization. This system is being used to create a library of interspecies microcell hybrid clones, each clone containing a unique single human chromosome in a mouse background. The complete library will represent the entire human karyotype.