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Classic Sézary syndrome (SS) is defined by erythroderma, generalized lymphadenopathy, and leukemic blood involvement. Clinical observations suggest that SS begins as a nonerythrodermic disease.To describe the early clinical characteristics of patients with SS.A retrospective, multicenter chart review was performed for 263 confirmed cases of SS diagnosed during 1976-2015.Erythroderma was the earliest recorded skin sign of SS in only 25.5% of cases, although most patients (86.3%) eventually developed erythroderma. In patients without erythroderma during their initial visit, the first cutaneous signs of SS were nonspecific dermatitis (49%), atopic dermatitis-like eruption (4.9%), or patches and plaques of mycosis fungoides (10.6%). The mean diagnostic delay was 4.2 years overall, 2.2 years for cases involving erythroderma at the initial presentation, and 5.0 years for cases not involving erythroderma at the initial presentation.This study is retrospective.Erythroderma is uncommon as an initial sign of SS. Early SS should be considered in cases of nonerythrodermic dermatitis that is refractory to conventional treatments. In these cases, examination of the blood by PCR for monoclonal T-cell receptor rearrangement and by flow cytometry to identify an expanded or aberrant T-cell population should be considered.