Human lymphocytes in G0 have been irradiated with X-ray doses from 0 to 4.0 Gy. Metaphase chromosomes 2, 3 and 5 and all centromeres were painted using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) probe libraries. Dicentrics, centric rings and acentrics in the whole genome as well as translocations involving the painted chromosomes were recorded. The translocations were subdivided as complete or incomplete. Interstitial insertions and inversions were also noted. The observations were also recorded according to the Protocol for Aberration Identification and Nomenclature Terminology (PAINT) system of scoring. Given that the painted chromosomes comprise 20.4% of the genome it was found that the yield of bicoloured dicentrics was consistent with the yield of dicentrics in the whole genome. The yield of radiation-induced translocations was not significantly higher than that of bicoloured dicentrics. Of the translocations, 60% were complete and it was concluded that the majority of dicentrics and translocations are complete exchanges. Chromosome 5 took part in exchanges marginally more commonly than its length suggests, but it is not known if this is a property of the chromosome or whether it is a donor-dependent observation. The PAINT system of recording rearrangements was examined and the suggested numerical interpretation of this nomenclature was considered to be unsuitable for use in the estimation of dose for cases of accidental overexposure.