Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is the fifth leading cause of cancer death with a 5-year survival rate of less than 5%. Although the role of a few known oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes in the development of pancreatic cancer is fairly well established, it is obvious that the majority of genetic changes responsible for the initiation and progression of this disease are still unknown. In this review, the authors will discuss the results from various genome-wide screening efforts, from traditional chromosome analyses to modern DNA microarray studies, which have provided an enormous amount of information on genetic alterations in pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Exciting findings have emerged from these studies, highlighting multiple potential chromosomal regions that may harbor novel cancer genes involved in the molecular pathogenesis of this lethal disorder. These findings complete the picture of pancreatic adenocarcinoma as a genetically highly complex and heterogenous tumor type with an ongoing instability process. In addition, the precisely localized copy number changes offer a valuable starting point for further studies required to identify the genes involved and to characterize their potential functional role in the development and progression of pancreatic adenocarcinoma. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.