Microsatellite-stable, near-diploid (MSI-CIN-) colorectal carcinomas have been reported, but it is not clear as to whether these tumours form a discrete group or represent one end of the distribution of MSI-CIN+ cancers. In order to address this question, we screened 23 MSI-CIN- colorectal cancers for gains and losses using array-based comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) based on large-insert clones at about 1 Mb density. We compared our findings with those from a small set of MSI+CIN+ cancers, and with our reported data from MSI-CIN+ and MSI+CIN- cancers. We found no evidence of any form of genomic instability in MSI-CIN- cancers. At the level of the chromosome arm, the MSI-CIN- cancers had significantly fewer gains and losses than MSI-CIN+ tumours, but more than the MSI+CIN- and MSI+CIN+ lesions. The chromosomal-scale changes found in MSI-CIN- cancers generally involved the same sites as those in MSI-CIN+ tumours, and in both cancer groups, the best predictor of a specific change was the total number of such changes in that tumour. A few chromosomal-scale changes did, however, differ between the MSI-CIN- and MSI-CIN+ pathways. MSI-CIN- cancers showed: low frequencies of gain of 9p and 19p; infrequent loss of 5q and a high frequency of 20p gain. Overall, our data suggested that the MSI-CIN- group is heterogeneous, one type of MSI-CIN- cancer having few (< or =6) chromosomal-scale changes and the other with more (> or =10) changes resembling MSI-CIN+ cancers. At the level of individual clones, frequent and/or discrete gains or losses were generally located within regions of chromosomal-scale changes in both MSI-CIN- and MSI-CIN+ cancers, and fewer losses and gains were present in MSI-CIN- than MSI-CIN+ tumours. No changes by clone, which were specific to the MSI-CIN- cancers, were found. In addition to indicating differences among the cancer groups, our results also detected over 50 sites (amplifications, potential homozygous deletion and gains or losses which extended over only a few megabases) which might harbour uncharacterized oncogenes or tumour suppressor loci. In conclusion, our data support the suggestion that some MSI-CIN- carcinomas form a qualitatively different group from the other cancer types, and also suggest that the MSI-CIN- group is itself heterogeneous.