The clinicopathological features and the prognostic significance of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) with trisomy 11 are currently unknown. In this study we describe 15 adult AML cases with trisomy 11. Trisomy 11 was the sole chromosomal anomaly in eight cases; the remaining seven cases were characterized by +11 in association with other karyotypic aberrations. Patient ages ranged from 34 to 79 years. 12 patients were male; three were female. Although there was no correlation of trisomy 11 with any specific FAB subgroup [M2 (n=7), M1 (n=5), M4/5 (n=2), M3 (n=1)] less mature forms predominated. Immunologically, the leukaemic blasts showed a strikingly consistent stem cell phenotype with expression of HLA-DR, CD34 and the myeloid antigens (CD15, CD33 and/or CD13). In addition, two cases expressed the B-cell associated antigen CD19. The presence of trilineage dysplasia, suggesting the presence of an underlying myelodysplasia (MDS), was observed at presentation in five cases; in another case MDS was evident at relapse only. Unexpectedly, MLL gene rearrangements were observed in two of four cases characterized by trisomy 11 as the sole karyotypic abnormality; however, MLL aberrations were not identified in three cases with trisomy 11 accompanied by other karyotypic anomalies. The majority of patients in each subgroup (i.e. those with and without additional cytogenetic abnormalities) achieved a short first complete remission (CR) (mean 8 months) and failed to obtain a second CR. Only one patient in each trisomy 11 subgroup is in a continuous CR for greater than 34 months. These findings suggest that trisomy 11 leukaemia is characterized by a stem/progenitor cell immunophenotype with poor response to standard chemotherapeutic regimens and an unfavourable prognosis.