Centrosome abnormalities are observed in human cancers and have been associated with aneuploidy, a driving force in tumour progression. However, the exact pathways that tend to cause centrosome abnormalities have not been fully elucidated in human tumours. Using a series of 68 non-small-cell lung carcinomas and an array ofin vitroexperiments, the relationship between centrosome abnormalities, aneuploidy, and the status of key G1 to S-phase transition cell-cycle molecules, involved in the regulation of centrosome duplication, was investigated. Centrosome amplification and structural abnormalities were common (53%), were strongly related to aneuploidy, and, surprisingly, were even seen in adjacent hyperplastic regions, suggesting the possibility that these are early lesions in lung carcinogenesis. Cyclin E and E2F1 overexpression, but notp53mutation, was observed to correlate with centrosome abnormalitiesin vivo(p= 0.029 andp= 0.015, respectively). This was further strengthened by the observation that cyclin E was specifically present in the nucleus and/or cytoplasm of the cells that contained centrosome aberrations. The cytoplasmic cyclin E signal may be attributed, in part, to the presence of truncated low-molecular-weight isoforms of cyclin E. In order to isolate the effect of cyclin E on the appearance of centrosome abnormalities, a U2OS tetracycline-repressible cyclin E cell line that has a normal centrosome profile by default was used. With this system, it was confirmedin vitrothat persistent cyclin E overexpression is sufficient to cause the appearance of centrosome abnormalities. Copyright © 2006 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.