Cultures from metastatic melanomas of 15 patients had detailed melanoma growth stimulatory activity (MGSA) and cytogenetic analysis. The presence of melanoma cells was confirmed by microscopic identification of melanin, tyrosinase activity, and electron microscopy characterization of melanosomes. The MGSA is found in cytoplasmic granules after immunocytochemical stain. Three of the cultures did not produce MGSA and showed no distinctive cytogenetic differences. Breakpoints in derivative chromosomes were concentrated in region 1p1, and among all cultures chromosome 1 was the most frequently rearranged. It also has a low copy number of normal homologs. Chromosomes 18, X, and Y were never derivative, and chromosomes 2 and 4 were rarely so. Thus the cytogenetic data indicate that 4q13-21, the hybridization site for MGSA cDNA, is spared from gross change, although it could be under the influence of another site on chromosome 1 that is lost or rearranged. The ratio of abnormal to normal autosomes (mean per cell) in no culture exceeded 0.5, and for no autosome exceeded 0.8, suggesting a limit to the rearrangement tolerated for cell survival. If the Y is retained, the X:Y ratio varies around a normal figure of 1. The ratio of autosomes to sex chromosomes varies around a normal figure of 22. These data suggest stability of the X chromosome in cells undergoing multiple rearrangements of the autosomes.