Methods and compositions for chromosome-specific staining are provided. Compositions comprise heterogenous mixtures of labeled nucleic acid fragments having substantially complementary base sequences to unique sequence regions of the chromosomal DNA for which their associated staining reagent is specific. Methods include methods for making the chromosome-specific staining compositions of the invention, and methods for applying the staining compositions to chromosomes.
 The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the U.S. Department of Energy and the University of California, for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.