Chromosomal numerical abnormalities (CNA) are ubiquitous in human cancers. However, the question of when a CNA occurs in the course of tumor generation and progression, is controversial. Recent radiological scrutiny has enabled the identification of small peripheral lesions in the lung. A chromosome-wide investigation encompassing almost all the chromosomal centromeres was performed using modified fluorescence in situ hybridization on the archived pathological samples of 16 atypical adenomatous hyperplasia (AAH) and 30 lung adenocarcioma (AdCa) specimens including those smaller than 1 cm in size. The prevalence of the gain was more extensive in male than in female patients, and in non-smokers than in smokers. It tended to be greater in poorly differentiated AdCa, in moderately differentiated AdCa, and in well-differentiated AdCa cases, in that order. Most AAH had non-specific gains affecting all the examined chromosomes. The prevalence of the gain differed significantly between AAH and bronchioloalveolar carcinoma (BAC) ≤ 1 cm, but not between BAC < 1 cm and well-differentiated AdCa > 1 cm. It is proposed that the CNA is a distinct phenomenon occurring in the early or premalignant stage of lung AdCa, and that the CNA itself may not be a sequel in the carcinogenetic process, but a driving factor in carcinogenesis.