The chimeric transcript SYT-SSX is generated as a result of reciprocal translocation t(X;18), which is the primary cytogenetic abnormality found in, and appears to be specific for, synovial sarcoma. We performed a reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for SYT-SSX transcripts in a series of 84 tumors (61 soft tissue tumors and 23 bone tumors), including a variety of histologic types, to assess its usefulness in molecular diagnosis. Ten synovial sarcomas, three tumors initially unclassified, and one malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor contained the chimeric transcripts. A review of the original slides and additional examination showed that a diagnosis of synovial sarcoma was appropriate for these cases. Additionally, in situ hybridization with an SSX1 probe indicated that the chimeric transcripts exist not only in the cells of special components but also in cells showing a variety of histologic patterns. Therefore, RT-PCR can be considered a useful molecular biological technique that can provide objective evidence for diagnosis of synovial sarcoma. Northern blot analysis with an SSX1 probe also detected chimeric SYT-SSX transcripts in the synovial sarcoma cases. The additional smaller bands, however, were also detected in six peripheral primitive neuroectodermal tumors (pPNETs) and one embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma. In five of these pPNETs, other bands ranging in size from 2.0 to 2.2 kb were also found, and it seems possible that these bands might represent novel karyotypic aberrations and/or splicing variants of SSX.