We evaluated serially by cytogenetics the blood and marrow chimerism of 38 leukemic recipients of HLA-matched bone marrow transplants (BMT) who were prepared by high doses of alkylating agents and fractionated total- body irradiation (2.2 Gy X 5). Donor or host mitoses were identified by examination of sex chromosomes in 32 patients or by evaluation of the polymorphism of other chromosomes after specific banding in six patients. Twenty-four patients were recipients of untreated BMT, and 14 were recipients of T-cell-depleted BMT. In the 24 patients who received untreated BMT, all showed successful engraftment, and only three had a transient mixed chimera. In the 14 recipients of T-cell-depleted BMTs, four rejected their grafts, and seven had mixed chimeras; these mixed chimeras were more frequent in blood lymphocytes than in marrow cells and could be detected up to 26 months after BMT. This high frequency of partial chimerism after T-cell-depleted BMT by comparison with a control group suggests that the donor's T cells play an important role in the eradication of host residual hematopoiesis after allogeneic BMT.