Human synovial sarcomas contain a recurrent and specific chromosomal translocation t(X;18)(p11.2;q11.2). By screening a synovial sarcoma cDNA library with a yeast artificial chromosome spanning the X chromosome breakpoint, we have indentified a hybrid transcript that contains 5′ sequences (designated SYT) mapping to chromosome 18 and 3′ sequences (designated SSX) mapping to chromosome X. An SYT probe detected genomic rearrangements in 10/13 synovial sarcomas. Sequencing of cDNA clones shows that the normal SYT gene encodes a protein rich in glutamine, proline and glycine, and indicates that in synovial sarcoma rearrangement of the SYT gene results in the formation of an SYT–SSX fusion protein. Both SYT and SSX failed to exhibit significant homology to known gene sequences.