The impact of cytogenetic characterization based on chromosome banding analyses and fluorescence in situ hybridization on clinical decision making has increased dramatically during recent years. Therefore, laboratory techniques have to be optimized to provide reliable results for optimal patient care. In addition, quick and correct results save time and money by preventing unnecessary additional diagnostics and suboptimal treatment approaches. It was our aim to present proposals for standardized protocols to improve the diagnosis, and hence the treatment outcome, of hematologic malignancies. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.