The organization of the amplified type I interferon (IFN) gene cluster and surrounding chromosomal regions was studied in the interphase cell nucleus of the human osteosarcoma cell line MG63. Rather than being arranged in a linear ladder-like array as in mitotic chromosomes, a cluster of approximately 15 foci was detected that was preferentially associated along the periphery of both the cell nucleus and a chromosome territory containing components of chromosomes 4, 8, and 9. Interspersed within the IFN gene foci were corresponding foci derived from amplified centromere 4 and 9 sequences. Other copies of chromosomes 4 and 8 were frequently detected in pairs or higher-order arrays lacking discrete borders between the chromosomes. In contrast, while chromosomes 4 and 8 in normal WI38 human fibroblast and osteoblast cells were occasionally found to associate closely, discrete boundaries were always detected between the two. DNA replication timing of the IFN gene cluster in early- to mid-S phase of WI38 cells was conserved in the amplified IFN gene cluster of MG63. Quantitative RT-PCR demonstrated a approximately 3-fold increase in IFN beta transcripts in MG63 compared with WI38 and RNA/DNA FISH experiments revealed 1-5 foci of IFN beta transcripts per cell with only approximately 5% of the cells showing foci within the highly amplified IFN gene cluster.