We report on 71 consecutive patients with de novo myelodysplastic syndromes referred to physicians belonging to the Societe francaise de greffe de moelle from 1982 through 1991 and transplanted with marrow from HLA-identical siblings. There were 16 cases of refractory anemia, 27 of refractory anemia with excess of blast cells, and 28 of refractory anemia with excess of blast cells in transformation. Seventeen patients had received cytoreductive chemotherapy before the graft. The disease progressed in 17 patients between diagnosis and grafting. Twenty-three patients are alive with a median follow-up of 6 years, whereas 24 died from relapse and 24 from transplant-related complications. Kaplan-Meier estimates of event-free survival, relapse and transplant-related mortality at 7 years were 32%, 48%, and 39%, respectively. The log-rank test and Cox's model revealed better outcome among young patients, patients in an early stage of the French-American- British (FAB) classification or with a low percentage of marrow blasts before transplantation, patients who did not undergo cytoreductive chemotherapy before transplantation, and patients conditioned with total body irradiation and cyclophosphamide. The high rate of relapse in advanced FAB stages has led us to graft patients earlier in the course of the disease, and we are currently conducting a multicenter, randomized study to determine the value of intensive chemotherapy before grafting in patients with an excess of marrow blasts.