In an attempt to define genomic copy number changes associated with the development of basal cell carcinoma, we investigated 15 sporadic tumors by comparative genomic hybridization. With the incorporation of tissue microdissection and degenerate oligonucleotide primed-polymerase chain reaction we were able to isolate, and then universally amplify, DNA from the tumor type. This combined approach allows the investigation of chromosomal imbalances within a histologically distinct region of tissue. Using comparative genomic hybridization we have observed novel and recurrent chromosomal gains at 6p (47%), 6q (20%), 9p (20%), 7 (13%), and X (13%). In addition comparative genomic hybridization revealed regional loss on 9q in 33% of tested tumors encompassing 9q22.3 to which the putative tumor suppressor gene, Patched, has been mapped. The deletion of Patched has been indicated in the development of hereditary and sporadic basal cell carcinomas. The identification of these recurrent genetic aberrations suggests that basal cell carcinomas may not be as genetically stable as previously thought. Further investigation of these regions may lead to the identification of other genes responsible for basal cell carcinoma formation.