Chromosomal instability resulting in copy number alterations is a hallmark of colorectal cancer (CRC). However, few studies have attempted to characterize the chromosomal changes occurring in early-onset CRC in order to compare them with those taking place within the more extensively studied late-onset CRC subset. Our aim was to characterize the genomic profiles of these two groups of colorectal tumors and to compare them to each other. Array comparative genomic hybridization profiling of 146 colorectal tumors (60 early-onset and 86 late-onset) in combination with an unsupervised analysis was used to define common and specific copy number alterations. We found a number of important differences between the chromosomal instability profiles of each age subset. Thus, losses at 1p36, 1p12, 1q21, 9p13, 14q11, 16p13, and 16p12 were significantly more frequent in younger patients, whereas gains at 7q11 and 7q22 were more frequent in older patients. Moreover, the unsupervised analysis stratified the tumors into two clusters, each one of which was enriched in patients from one of the age subsets. Our findings confirm the existence of substantial differences between the chromosomal instability profiles of the two groups which are more important from a qualitative point of view. Further studies are needed to understand the clinicopathological implications of these dissimilarities. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.