Archival studies on paraffin-embedded tumor samples are often complicated by difficulty obtaining a reliable diploid DNA standard. Nontumor cells, e.g., inflammatory and stromal cells, most often found interspersed among tumor cells, would represent a solution to this problem. Unfortunately, there is an inherent difficulty to positively identifying tumor cells in paraffin-embedded specimens. Using an aneuploid paraffin-embedded breast cancer sample, we show here that laser scanning cytometer (LSC) in conjunction with flow cytometry can help to address this issue. Following standard protocols, the tissue was deparaffinized and rehydrated, and the nuclei mechanically isolated before being exposed to propidium iodide. An aliquot served for single-parameter flow cytometric analysis, and the remaining cells were cytocentrifuged onto a microscope slide and LSC analysis was performed. The DNA histogram profiles generated by the two approaches were comparable and both showed the presence of cell populations with different DNA content. To assess the nature of these subsets, we performed a correlated measurement of DNA content and chromatin organization at the single-cell level by LSC. This allowed the identification of several subsets of nuclei. Slides were then stained with Giemsa and the nature of these subsets was assessed morphologically by exploiting the relocating capability of LSC. Inflammatory and stromal cells, residual diploid epithelial cells, and hyperdiploid tumor cells-each characterized by a peculiar coordinate pattern of DNA content and chromatin organization-could be positively identified. Diploid, nontumor cells can then be used as an internal standard for DNA ploidy.