Although it is known that human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DPB1 disparity has a strong impact on outcomes in unrelated hematopoietic transplantation with induction of acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and a graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effect, its role in unrelated umbilical cord blood transplantation (UR-CBT) has yet to be fully clarified. Our current study is being conducted to elucidate the impact of HLA-DPB1 mismatch, along with the effect of other HLA loci mismatches at the allele level. HLA six loci alleles were retrospectively typed in 1157 Japanese donors and patients with leukemia or myelodysplastic syndrome who underwent transplantation with a single unit of cord blood. HLA-DPB1 mismatch was associated with a significant reduction in leukemia relapse (hazard ratio 0.61, P < 0.001), whereas the other HLA loci allele-level mismatches did not. No significant effect of HLA-DPB1 mismatch was observed in the risk of acute GVHD, engraftment or mortality. This HLA-DPB1 GVL effect without induction of severe acute GVHD or deterioration of survival rate has not been reported in unrelated bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell transplantations, suggesting apparent advantages of UR-CBT. Accordingly, selection of an HLA-DPB1 mismatch cord blood might be the preferable choice for single-unit UR-CBT.