Chromosomal abnormalities in plasma cells (PCs) from multiple myeloma (MM) provide a clonal signature to identify malignant cells. BM-lymphocytes from MM aspirates, defined by stringent criteria, were screened for the same chromosomal abnormalities as autologous PCs, including translocations, deletions, and amplifications. For 200 MM patients, we evaluated BM mononuclear cells to identify lymphocytes and autologous PCs on the same slide, followed by interphase fluorescence in situ hybridization to characterize their chromosomal abnormalities. Of all patients having a given chromosomal abnormality(s) in PCs, 45% showed that same abnormality(s) in 2–37% (median = 5%) of BM-lymphocytes. Most translocations, amplifications, and deletions found in MM PCs were also detected in lymphocytes, above the healthy-donor “cut-off.” In patients having chromosomally abnormal CD20− PCs, chromosomally abnormal lymphocytes were found among CD20+ cells confirming them as B cells. Exceptions were amplification of 1q21 or p53 deletion, which characterize PCs but were undetectable in BM-lymphocytes, suggesting that processes leading to these abnormalities may be exclusive to PCs. For a set of 75 patients whose BM-lymphocytes and PCs were analyzed by all six probe sets, 58% of those with abnormal PC also had abnormal BM-lymphocytes harboring from one to five different abnormalities. Confirming the clinical significance of chromosomally abnormal BM-lymphocytes, MM patients having abnormalities in both lymphocytes and PC had significantly worse survival than those with abnormalities only in PC (HR = 2.68). The presence of at least one chromosomal abnormality in BM-lymphocytes appears to have greater clinical significance than particular abnormalities. Chromosomally abnormal BM-lymphocytes correlate with poor outcome and by extrapolation with more aggressive disease. Am. J. Hematol. 87:579–587, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.