The osprey (Pandion haliaetus) has a diploid number of 74 chromosomes, consisting of a large number of medium-sized macrochromosomes and relatively few microchromosomes; this differs greatly from the typical avian karyotype. Chromosome painting with chicken DNA probes revealed that the karyotype of P. haliaetus differs from the chicken karyotype by at least 14 fission events involving macrochromosomes (chicken chromosomes 1-9 and Z) and at most 15 fusions of microchromosomes, suggesting that considerable karyotype reorganization occurred in P. haliaetus in a similar manner previously reported for Accipitridae. A distinct difference was observed, however, between Accipitridae and Pandionidae with respect to the pattern of chromosome rearrangements that occurred after fissions of macrochromosomes. Metacentric or submetacentric chromosomes 1-5 in P. haliaetus appear to have been formed by centric fusion of chromosome segments derived from macrochromosomal fissions. By contrast, many pairs of bi-armed chromosomes in Accipitridae species seem to result from pericentric inversions that occurred in the fission-derived chromosomes. Two families of repetitive sequences were isolated; the 173-bp PHA-Hae III sequence occurred on all chromosomes, whereas intense signals from the 742-bp PHA-Nsi I sequence were localized to all acrocentric chromosomes, with weak signals on most of the bi-armed chromosomes. Two repetitive sequences cohybridized in the centromeric heterochromatin; however, the sequences differed in unit size, nucleotide sequence and GC content. The results suggest that the 2 sequence families originated from different ancestral sequences and were homogenized independently in centromeres, and that a chromosome size-dependent compartmentalization may have been lost in P. haliaetus.