Among 511 patients with therapy-related myelodysplastic syndrome or acute leukemia (t-MDS/t-AL) and balanced chromosome aberrations, 162 (32%) had translocations involving 11q23. The recurring translocation partners were 9p22 (48%), 19p13.3 (11%), 19p13.1 (10%), 4q21 (9%), 6q27 (6%), 1p32 (2%), 16p13.1 (2%), 10p13 (1%), and 17q25 (1%); in 9%, the translocations were seen only once. The remaining 349 patients were divided into five subgroups based on the balanced aberration: 21q22, inv(16), t(15;17), Rare, and Unique aberrations. Patients in the 11q23 subgroup had a sole cytogenetic abnormality more often than those in the 21q22, inv(16), Rare, and Unique subgroups, and a complex karyotype or -5/del(5q) and/or -7/del(7q) less often than patients in the 21q22, Rare, and Unique subgroups. Clinically, 11q23 patients had acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) more often as their primary disease and a shorter latency from start of treatment for the primary disease to their t-MDS/t-AL diagnosis, except when compared with the inv(16) subgroup. The 11q23 subgroup demonstrated a younger age at t-MDS/t-AL diagnosis, but this finding was not significant when patients with AL as their primary diagnosis were excluded. Survival from the time of diagnosis of t-MDS/t-AL was significantly shorter for the 11q23 subgroup compared with that of the 21q22, inv(16), and t(15;17) subgroups (median 8 vs. 14, 28, and 29 months, respectively). Inferior survival occurred even though 11q23 patients were younger and more often received blood or marrow transplantation (BMT). Even among patients receiving BMT, 11q23 patients had a shorter median survival (9 vs. 12-31 months for the other subgroups). However, among 11q23 patients, those receiving BMT survived longer, with 1- and 5-year survivals of 43% and 18% compared with 23% and 7% for patients not transplanted. With regard to prior therapy, 11q23 patients, compared with other patients, received radiotherapy less often as their sole therapy and chemotherapy more often. They had received VP16, methotrexate, 6MP/6TG, L-asparaginase, daunorubicin, cytarabine, and VM26 more often, likely attributed to the high frequency of AL as their primary disease. More patients in the 11q23 subgroup had received doxorubicin, except in comparison with the 21q22 subgroup; more vincristine, except in comparison with the Rare and Unique subgroups; and more prednisone, except in comparison with the Unique subgroup. Patients in the 11q23 subgroup more often received alkylating agents (AAs) (86% vs. 59-82% for the other subgroups), and topoisomerase II inhibitors (TIs) (84% vs. 49-75%), and they more often reported exposure to AAs plus TIs without radiotherapy (33% vs. 12-21%), except in comparison with the 21q22 subgroup (36%). We performed a multivariate analysis to determine whether the adverse survival of 11q23 patients compared to other Workshop patients was explained by factors other than the presence of the 11q23 abnormality. Covariates in the final model were the five cytogenetic subgroup indicators, where the 11q23 subgroup was the referent (P < 0.0001); age at t-MDS/t-AL (P = 0.0036); previous exposure to lomustine (P < 0.0001) and mitoxantrone (P = 0.0225); BMT for t-MDS/t-AL (P = 0.0006); and karyotype complexity (P = 0.0114). The risk of death for 11q23 patients relative to patients in the 21q22, inv(16), t(15;17), and Unique subgroups was significant, even after adjustment for other risk factors (relative risks 2.3, 3.6, 3.1, and 1.5, respectively; P < 0.0001 for the first three comparisons and P = 0.0125 for the last). When a multivariable model was constructed, excluding patients with AL or MDS as their primary diagnosis, the relative risk of death for 11q23 patients was significantly higher than that of all five other cytogenetic subgroups. We conclude that among t-MDS/t-AL patients with balanced aberrations, 11q23 translocations are an independent adverse risk factor. Although BMT is the current therapy of choice, new treatment is required.