Flat urothelial hyperplasia, defined as markedly thickened urothelium without cytological atypia, is regarded in the new WHO classification as a urothelial lesion without malignant potential. Frequent deletions of chromosome 9 detected by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) have been previously reported in flat urothelial hyperplasias found in patients with papillary bladder cancer. Using comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) and microsatellite analysis, these hyperplasias and concomitant papillary tumours of the same patients were screened for other genetic alterations to validate and extend the previous findings. Eleven flat hyperplasias detected by 5-ALA-induced fluorescence endoscopy and ten papillary urothelial carcinomas (pTaG1–G2) from ten patients were investigated. After microdissection, the DNA of the lesions was pre-amplified using whole genome amplification (I-PEP-PCR). Loss of heterozygosity (LOH) analyses were performed with five microsatellite markers at chromosomes 9p, 9q, and 17p. CGH was performed using standard protocols. In 6 of 11 hyperplasias and 7 of 10 papillary tumours, deletions at chromosome 9 were simultaneously shown by FISH, LOH, and CGH analyses. There was a good correlation between FISH, LOH, and CGH analyses, with identical results in 6 of 10 patients. In addition to deletions at chromosome 9, further genetic alterations were detected by CGH in 9 of 10 investigated hyperplasias, including changes frequently found in invasive papillary bladder cancer (loss of chromosomes 2q, 4, 8p, and 11p; gain of chromosome 17; and amplification at 11q12q13). There was considerable genetic heterogeneity between hyperplasias and papillary tumours, but a clonal relationship was suggested by LOH and/or CGH analyses in 5 of 10 cases. These data support the hypothesis that flat urothelial hyperplasias can display many genetic alterations commonly found in bladder cancer and could therefore be an early neoplastic lesion in the multistep development of invasive urothelial carcinoma. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.