In the mature chorion, one of the membranes that exist during pregnancy between the developing fetus and mother, human placental cells form highly specialized tissues composed of mesenchyme and floating or anchoring villi. Using fluorescence in situ hybridization, we found that human invasive cytotrophoblasts isolated from anchoring villi or the uterine wall had gained individual chromosomes; however, chromosome losses were detected infrequently. With chromosomes gained in what appeared to be a chromosome-specific manner, more than half of the invasive cytotrophoblasts in normal pregnancies were found to be hyperdiploid. Interestingly, the rates of hyperdiploid cells depended not only on gestational age, but were strongly associated with the extraembryonic compartment at the fetal-maternal interface from which they were isolated. Since hyperdiploid cells showed drastically reduced DNA replication as measured by bromodeoxyuridine incorporation, we conclude that aneuploidy is a part of the normal process of placentation potentially limiting the proliferative capabilities of invasive cytotrophoblasts. Thus, under the special circumstances of human reproduction, somatic genomic variations may exert a beneficial, anti-neoplastic effect on the organism.