Renal-cell carcinomas (RCC) are clinically, histologically and cytogenetically very heterogeneous. The present histological WHO classification shows no clear correlation between histologic subtypes and specific chromosomal abnormalities. In 1986, a new classification was proposed by Thoenes and Störkel based on the cell type from which the tumor arises. They distinguish 5 cell types: clear-cell, chromophilic, chromophobic, ductus Bellini and oncocytic. Results of 105 primary tumors show that, in this new classification, there is a correlation between different subtypes of renal-cell tumor and specific chromosomal abnormalities at a microscopic and/or molecular level. The clear-cell compact type shows structural aberrations of chromosomes 1, 3, 4, 5q, 6, 10q, 11 q and 12q, together with polysomy of chromosomes ×, 4, 5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21 and 22, monosomy of chromosomes 3, 8, 9, 13, 14, and loss of Y. The main characteristics of the chromophilic tubulo-papillary type are trisomies 7 and 17, and loss of the Y-chromosome. Chromophobic carcinoma seems to be correlated with, inter alia, polysomy 7, trisomies 12, 16, 18, 19, structural abnormalities of 11q, and telomeric associations. Oncocytomas do not reveal any specific chromosomal anomaly, except for trisomy 7. Loss of heterozygosity on 3p is only found in the clear-cell compact type. Some specific chromosomal abnormalities correlate with a particular grade of the tumor. These correlations support the hypothesis that specific chromosomal abnormalities play a role in the histogenesis and oncogenesis of RCC. They may be important for tumor diagnosis and clinical prognosis.