Previous loss of heterozygosity (LOH) studies of chromosome 3p loci have displayed a 60% deletion frequency in non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLC), as opposed to small-cell lung cancers, in which the 3p deletion is consistently found. However, the high stromal-cell admixture found in NSCLC and the use of the Southern-blot method lead to under-evaluation of this frequency. In this study, we used a very precise microdissection technique followed by PCR amplification of 6 3p21-22 polymorphic genomic sequences to analyze LOH in 86 NSCLC and in normal adjacent tissue. We found the sensitivity of the microdissection-PCR-based LOH technique higher than the sensitivity of the Southern-blot technique: 87% of the squamous-cell carcinomas and 84% of the large-cell undifferentiated carcinomas showed a clear LOH for a 3p21-22 locus. All doubly informative cases but 4 showed concordant deletion at all 3p21-22 loci. The analysis of 3p microsatellite sequences displayed only 2 cases of genomic instability, one of them also displaying features of tumoral heterogeneity as regards the instability genotype. Four carcinomas in situ adjacent to these NSCLC showed the same allelic profile as the invasive tumors. The only prognostic factors in this study were the disease stage and histology. The 3p21-22 deletion was not related to the stage of the disease and did not appear to be a significant prognostic factor of survival. 3p21 loss appears, so far, to be the most frequent and the earliest genetic alteration described in NSCLC, but does not seem to carry significant prognostic information in invasive tumors.