Fine-needle aspiration biopsy findings in three cases of chromophobe cell carcinoma are described and correlated with histologic and ultrastructural observations. In addition, comparisons are made with three cases each of oncocytoma and granular cell carcinoma. The cells in aspiration smears from chromophobe cell carcinoma closely correlated with histologic pattern of three cell types which were not present in oncocytomas and granular cell carcinomas. These cells had prominent cell borders, and their cytoplasm was either opaque and granular (type I) or variably translucent and reticular (type II and III). Ultrastructurally, the translucent areas within the cytoplasm contained large numbers of microvesicles which were unique to chromophobe cell carcinoma and were not seen in other neoplasms. Fine-needle aspiration may be used to diagnose chromophobe cell carcinoma and distinguish it from other related renal neoplasms. © 1995 Wiley-Liss, Inc.