Soft tissue sarcomas (STSs) are a heterogeneous group of malignant tumors that can be divided into specific reciprocal translocation associated in STSs (SRTSs) and nonspecific reciprocal translocation associated in STSs (NRTSs). Telomeres play a key role in maintaining chromosomal stability; pathological telomere elongation is found in a number of cancers. In this study, we aimed to assess telomere lengths in the two types of sarcomas. Twenty formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) archival tissues, namely, 10 sarcomas with characteristic translocations and 10 without characteristic translocations, were included in this study. Expression levels of special fusion gene transcripts were detected in these tumors by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. Telomere lengths were assessed by fluorescence in situ hybridization. Results showed that in 10 of the 10 cases of SRTSs, telomere lengths were similar to or reduced compared with the surrounding normal cells. Telomere lengths were elongated in eight of 10 cases of NRTSs, but reduced in two cases. The difference in telomere length was statistically significant in the two types of sarcomas (P=0.001). Upon combining the P53 mutation status, we found that the telomere length was short in eight cases, and only one case demonstrated p53 mutation. However, the telomere length was long in eight cases, and p53 mutation was observed in five cases. These data suggested that p53 mutation was accompanied with long telomeres, and telomeres possibly play an important role in NRTSs. Therefore, telomere-targeting therapy may lead to novel therapeutic strategies to improve treatment of NRTS patients.