The detection and genetic analysis of fetal cells in maternal blood will permit noninvasive prenatal screening for genetic defects. Applied Imaging has developed and is currently evaluating a system for semiautomatic detection of fetal nucleated red blood cells on slides and acquisition of their DNA probe FISH images. The specimens are blood smears from pregnant women (9 - 16 weeks gestation) enriched for nucleated red blood cells (NRBC). The cells are identified by using labeled monoclonal antibodies directed to different types of hemoglobin chains (gamma, epsilon); the nuclei are stained with DAPI. The Applied Imaging system has been implemented with both Olympus BX and Nikon Eclipse series microscopes which were equipped with transmission and fluorescence optics. The system includes the following motorized components: stage, focus, transmission, and fluorescence filter wheels. A video camera with light integration (COHU 4910) permits low light imaging. The software capabilities include scanning, relocation, autofocusing, feature extraction, facilities for operator review, and data analysis. Detection of fetal NRBCs is achieved by employing a combination of brightfield and fluorescence images of nuclear and cytoplasmic markers. The brightfield and fluorescence images are all obtained with a single multi-bandpass dichroic mirror. A Z-stack of DNA probe FISH images is acquired by moving focus and switching excitation filters. This stack is combined to produce an enhanced image for presentation and spot counting.