One hundred twelve patients less than 36 years old received marrow grafts from unrelated donors as treatment for hematologic malignancy. Seventy donor/recipient pairs were phenotypically identical for HLA-A, - B, and -D, while 42 had a “minor” disparity at one HLA locus. There was an increase in the risk of acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) in patients receiving HLA-partially matched grafts compared with those receiving HLA-matched grafts (51% v 36% probability of grades III-IV acute GVHD). However, in this cohort of patients, there was no significant difference in survival (at 1.5 years, 46% v 51% for good- risk patients, 44% v 30% for poor-risk patients). This finding suggests that some degree of HLA disparity can be tolerated in young patients transplanted from unrelated donors for malignant disease, thus making transplantation an option available to larger numbers of patients.