Cultured cell lines and xenografts derived from 7 human medulloblastomas were evaluated for amplification of the c-myc, N-myc, epidermal growth factor receptor, and gli genes by Southern blot analysis. Karyotypes of the original biopsies and early passaged cells demonstrated double minute chromosomes in 4 of the 7 cases. All 7 samples (3 cell lines and 4 xenografts) from the 4 tumors with double minute chromosomes contained amplification of the c-myc gene. Cell lines and xenografts derived from the 3 biopsies without double minute chromosomes failed to demonstrate amplification of the 4 genes which were tested, but a rearrangement of the c-myc gene occurred in 1 of the 3 tumors. These observations demonstrate that the c-myc gene is often amplified and/or rearranged in human medulloblastomas and suggest that amplification of this gene provides a growth advantage for medulloblastoma cells in vitro and fit vivo. © 1990, American Association for Cancer Research. All rights reserved.