Detecting and determining the relative abundance of diverse individual sequences in complex DNA samples is a recurring experimental challenge in analyzing genomes. We describe a general experimental approach to this problem, using microscopic arrays of DNA fragments on glass substrates for differential hybridization analysis of fluorescently labeled DNA samples. To test the system, 864 physically mapped lambda clones of yeast genomic DNA, together representing >75% of the yeast genome, were arranged into 1.8-cm x 1.8-cm arrays, each containing a total of 1744 elements. The microarrays were characterized by simultaneous hybridization of two different sets of isolated yeast chromosomes labeled with two different fluorophores. A laser fluorescent scanner was used to detect the hybridization signals from the two fluorophores. The results demonstrate the utility of DNA microarrays in the analysis of complex DNA samples. This system should find numerous applications in genome-wide genetic mapping, physical mapping, and gene expression studies.