Flat urothelial hyperplasias (FUHs) in patients with papillary bladder tumours frequently show deletions of chromosome 9, suggesting that FUH could be the first neoplastic step in the development of papillary bladder cancer. FGFR3 mutations are frequent in non-invasive papillary tumours with low risk of progression. Our aim was to investigate the frequency of FGFR3 mutations and deletions of chromosomes 9p/q and 8p/q in FUH. Thirty FUH and 9 simultaneous or consecutive tumours were detected by 5-ALA-based photodynamic cystoscopy. DNA was isolated from frozen sections and whole genome amplification was done by I-PEP-PCR, followed by LOH analysis on chromosomes 8p/q and 9p/q. FGFR3 mutations were detected by SNaPshot analysis. LOH analysis on FUH revealed deletions at 9p/q (11/30, 37%) and 8p/q (3/30, 10%). FGFR3 mutations were found in 7/30 FUH (23%). Only 2 FUH showed an FGFR3 mutation without deletions of chromosome 9. In contrast, 6 FUH revealed chromosome 9 deletions but wild type FGFR3 (p = 0.03). These results suggest that chromosome 9 deletions are the earliest genetic alterations in bladder cancer. The detection of FGFR3 mutations in FUH further supports the role of this lesion as precursor of papillary bladder cancer. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.