Patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) often exhibit clonal chromosomal abnormalities. Using a probe for the centromeric region of chromosome 8, fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) on interphase cells was used to detect trisomy 8 in an AML patient whose leukemia was characterised by the karyotype 47, XY, +8, del(9) (q21.1q32). We have demonstrated using FISH the presence of the trisomy at all stages of the patient's disease course (including remission, peripheral blood cell harvest and relapse), whereas conventional karyoptypic analysis was only able to detect the trisomy at diagnosis and clinical relapse. We have also shown using immunophenotyping, cell sorting and FISH, that the trisomic cells in this patient were restricted to the CD34+ subset of blood and bone marrow and could not be found in the CD 34-, T or B cell compartment. Overall we have shown FISH to be a rapid, quantitative method for the detection of cells with numerical chromosome abnormalities. FISH analysis of interphase cells provides valuable information on the status of the whole population, rather than just cycling cells, and can be applied successfully to monitor the level of leukemic cells.