The WHO classification of renal cell carcinomas (RCC) takes into account chromosomal alterations. New cytogenetic techniques such as comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) offer alternative methods to the classic cytogenetic banding technique. Clear cell (classic) RCC frequently show the loss of 3p. Papillary RCC are characterized by trisomies and tetrasomies as well as loss of the Y chromosome. CGH analysis demonstrates that DNA copy increase is more common in type I papillary RCC compared to type II. Chromophobe RCC are characterized by losses in chromosomes 1, 2, 6, 10, 13, 17, and 21. Oncocytomas can be divided into cases with rearrangements in the 11q13 region and those with loss of chromosome 1 and the sex chromosomes. Translocations involving chromosome 3, such as t(3;8)(p14;q24.13) and t(2;3)(q35;q21) have been described in familial clear cell RCC. The most recent class of RCC, seen only in men, is referred to as translocation tumors. These tumors demonstrate a tubulopapillary growth pattern and have a t(X;1)(p11.2;q21.2) translocation. Although not required for most clinical diagnoses, CGH and FISH complement the standard histologic diagnosis of RCC and may provide a definitive diagnosis in a small number of challenging cases.