Infections are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in patients undergoing high-dose therapy and subsequent autologous or allogeneic haemopoietic stem cell transplantation, despite the change from topical to systemic anti-infection prophylaxis and the introduction of growth factors and new antimicrobial drugs. We report our single centre experience with data from 409 patients treated at our unit from its opening in 1990 until May 1997. Three hundred and seventy-eight patients were transplanted for the first time, 12 patients were retransplanted or boosted and 19 patients were readmitted for miscellaneous reasons. 245 patients were allografted and 157 autografted. Antimicrobial prophylaxis was mainly quinolones, fluconazole plus amphotericin-B orally, aciclovir, and TMP/SMX or pentamidine. Three hundred and nineteen (78%) developed fever of significantly longer duration in the allogeneic setting with anti-CMV seropositivity. The most frequent infection was fever of unknown origin (50.6%), followed by septicaemia (12.5%) and pneumonia (11.0%). Pathogens isolated in 24.6% of the infections were mostly gram-positive bacteria (57.9%), followed by non-fermenting rods (11.2%), Aspergillus spp. and Candida spp. (10.3%, each). Cumulative response rate to antimicrobial therapy was 66.9%. Infections were responsible for 62.5% (25/40) of deaths after transplantation. Predominant pathogens were Aspergillus spp. (11), Candida spp. (four), and Pseudomonas spp. (three). None of the patients died from gram-positive bacterial infection. The risk of dying from infection was 11.2% after allografting and 0.8% after autotransplantation. Infections remain a major risk for early death after allogeneic transplantation of haemopoietic stem cells. Infection with gram-negative bacteria can be prevented by quinolone prophylaxis. Predominant pathogens are Aspergillus spp. Candida spp. and nonfermenting rods. Systemic infection with these pathogens is associated with a poor prognosis. Antimycotic prophylaxis and the therapy must be improved.