A new recurring chromosome abnormality was identified in 8 of 621 consecutive successfully karyotyped adults with de novo acute leukemia. These eight patients had trisomy 13 as the sole cytogenetic abnormality. On central morphologic review, five cases were classified as subtypes of acute myeloid leukemia, one as acute mixed lymphoid and myeloid leukemia, one as acute lymphoid leukemia, and one as acute undifferentiated leukemia. Blasts of all eight cases expressed one or more myeloid differentiation antigens. Three also expressed T-lineage- associated antigens; however, none of these had rearrangement of the T- cell receptor beta, gamma, or delta genes. Four of six cases tested were TdT positive. All eight patients with trisomy 13 were treated with intensive induction chemotherapy; only three entered a short-lived complete remission. Survival of patients with trisomy 13 ranged from 0.5 to 14.7 months, and was significantly shorter than that of the remaining patients (median 9.5 v 16.2 months, P = .007). We conclude that trisomy 13 is a rare, recurring clonal chromosome abnormality in acute leukemia associated with a poor prognosis. Malignant transformation of an immature hematopoietic precursor cell is suggested by the expression of antigens characteristic of both the myeloid and lymphoid lineage, the high incidence of TdT positivity, and the morphologic heterogeneity in these leukemias.