A colony color assay that measures chromosome stability is described and is used to study several parameters affecting the mitotic maintenance of yeast chromosomes, including ARS function, CEN function, and chromosome size. A cloned ochre-suppressing form of a tRNA gene, SUP11, serves as a marker on natural and in vitro-constructed chromosomes. In diploid strains homozygous for an ochre mutation in ade2, cells carrying no copies of the SUP11 gene are red, those carrying one copy are pink, and those carrying two or more copies are white. Thus, the degree of red sectoring in colonies reflects the frequency of mitotic chromosome loss. The assay also distinguishes between chromosome loss (1:0 segregation) and nondisjunction (2:0 segregation). The most dramatic effect on improving mitotic stability is caused by increasing chromosome size. Circular chromosomes increase in stability through a size range up to approximately 100 kb, but do not continue to be stabilized above this value. However, linear chromosomes continue to increase in mitotic stability throughout the size range tested (up to 137 kb). It is possible that the mitotic stability of linear chromosomes is proportional to chromosome length, up to a plateau value that has not yet been reached in our synthetic constructions.