AIMS: Cutaneous benign fibrohistiocytic tumours are among the most common soft tissue lesions. Their biological nature, in particular whether they are neoplastic or reactive, has long been disputed. Some morphological subtypes can be confused with sarcoma. Since available karyotypic data in these lesions are scarce, this study was undertaken to determine whether their cytogenetic analysis might demonstrate clonality and might help in differential diagnosis. METHODS AND RESULTS: Thirteen karyotyped benign cutaneous fibrous histiocytomas (BFH) were morphologically reassessed and classified as ordinary BFH (eight cases), cellular BFH (four cases), and one ankle-type lesion. Five cases (38%) showed clonal cytogenetic changes, although the aberrations varied and did not correlate with histological subtypes. Karyotypic aberrations were more common in cellular BFH (3/4) than in the ordinary BFH (2/8). CONCLUSIONS: The demonstration of clonal chromosome abnormalities, in at least some cases, supports the neoplastic nature of cutaneous BFH. The karyotypic changes identified are different from those in dermatofibrosarcoma, with which cellular BFH is often confused histologically.