Comparative chromosomal mapping studies and investigations of tumor-associated chromosomal abnormalities suggest that the development of hepatic tumors in humans and rats may share a common molecular mechanism that involves inactivation of the same tumor suppressor genes or common genetic loci. We investigated the potential of human chromosomes 2 and 11 to suppress the tumorigenic phenotype of rat liver epithelial tumor cell lines. These tumor cell lines (GN6TF and GP7TB) display elevated saturation densities in culture, efficiently form colonies in soft agar, and produce subcutaneous tumors in 100% of syngeneic rat hosts with short latency periods. Introduction of human chromosome 11 by microcell fusion markedly altered the tumorigenicity and the transformed phenotype of GN6TF cells. In contrast, the tumorigenic potential and phenotype of GP7TB cells was unaffected by the introduction of human chromosome 11, indicating that not all rat liver tumor cell lines can be suppressed by loci carried on this chromosome. Introduction of human chromosome 2 had little or no effect on the tumorigenicity or cellular phenotype of either tumor cell line, suggesting the involvement of chromosome 11-specific loci in the suppression of the GN6TF tumor cell line. The GN6TF-11neo microcell hybrid cell lines displayed significantly reduced saturation densities in monolayer cultures, and their ability to grow in soft agar was completely inhibited. Although GN6TF-11neo cells ultimately formed tumors in 80-100% of syngeneic rat hosts, the latency period for tumor formation was much longer. Molecular characterization of GN6TF-11neo microcell hybrid cell lines indicated that some of the clonal lines had spontaneously lost significant portions of the introduced human chromosome, partially delineating the chromosomal location of the putative tumor suppressor locus to the region between the centromere and 11p12. Molecular examination of microcell hybrid-derived tumor cell lines further defined the minimal portion of human chromosome 11 capable of tumor suppression in this model system to the region 11p11.2-p12.