We have hypothesized that metacentric and submetacentric chromosomes frequently observed in malignant canine tumors are a result of telomeric fusions. Therefore cells from a canine mammary pleomorphic adenoma were transformed with a plasmid containing the SV40 'early region', known to cause telomeric associations. Compared with non-transformed adenoma cells, the cells had a higher proliferative capacity and expressed the large SV40-T-antigen. Karyotype studies showed the conversion from a normal to an aberrant karyotype with an increase of bi-armed chromosomes resulting from fusions of acrocentric chromosomes. In addition, the length of the telomeric repeats (TTAGGG) was determined for an early and a late passage of the transformed cells by Southern hybridization. The length of the telomeric repeats was apparently longer in the 5th than in the 38th passage. In situ hybridization with a telomere-specific DNA revealed interstitial telomeric repeats in the bi-armed chromosomes. We have concluded that these findings reflect the clonal expansion of head-to-head-telomeric fusions of canine acrocentric chromosomes leading to dicentric chromosomes with a very short distance between the two centromeres. Our results support the idea that the apparent centric fusions that have been described in some canine tumors may in fact be the cytogenetic products of head-to-head-telomeric fusions.