COMET-FISH, a single cell-based combination of COMET-assay (also known as single cell gel electrophoresis (SCGE)) with fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) allows region specific studies on DNA stability and damage. COMET-FISH can be used to investigate UV-A-induced DNA damage of selected whole chromosomes. In the present work, a modified COMET-FISH protocol with whole chromosome painting probes was used to study whether UV-A-induced DNA damage is distributed randomly over the whole genome or occurs at preferred sites. The study was performed with 12 different chromosome painting probes (for chromosomes 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 11, 14, 18, 19, 21, X and Y). The results on human lymphocytes irradiated with 500 kJ/m2 at a wavelength of 365 nm indicate that the induced number of chromatin strand breaks does not correlate with the chromosome size. They therefore are distributed in a non-random manner. For example, fragments of the gene-rich chromosome chromosome 1 were found in the comet tail in only 3% of the examined cells, and thus chromosome 1 is rather stable, whereas fragmentation of the gene-poor chromosome 8 was observed in 25% of all comets. On the basis of all 12 chromosomes analyzed, an inverse correlation between the density of active genes and the sensitivity toward UV-A radiation is found.