High-dose therapy with autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) has become the treatment of choice for symptomatic eligible patients with multiple myeloma (MM). We report our centre experience and analyse retrospectively the prognostic influence of pretransplant characteristics and transplant modalities on response and survival. A total of 127 MM patients (median age: 55.2 years) were transplanted between 1994 and 2001. In all, 69 patients had IgG, 28 IgA, 23 light chain, one IgD and six non secretory MM. At the time of autograft, 6% of patients were in complete remission (CR), 73% in partial remission (PR), 12% showed minor response to previous treatment and 9% had stable or refractory disease. Prior to autograft, 79% of cases had received only one line of chemotherapy and 21% two or more lines. All patients received PBSC support after conditioning with 200 mg/m(2) melphalan alone (100 patients) or melphalan and TBI (27 patients). We evaluated the influence of age (using as cutoff value the ages of 55, 60 and 65 years), type of MM, status pre- and post-ASCT, number of lines of previous regimens, time of ASCT from diagnosis, year of autograft, dose of reinfused CD34+ cells, plasma cell infiltration and beta(2)-microglobulin at diagnosis on overall (OS) and progression-free survivals (PFS) to define patients with better prognosis. Following ASCT, 15% of patients were in CR and 81% in PR, while only two patients progressed. Median OS and PFS from transplantation were 50.4 and 23.5 months, respectively. Median OS from diagnosis was 79.7 months. Transplant-related mortality was 2.3%. Low levels of beta(2)-microglobulin and the achievement of CR post-transplant correlated with longer PFS (P<0.03 and P<0.01, respectively). The median PFS was 36.1, 23.9, 21.1 and 16.4 months for nonsecretory, IgG, IgA and light chain subtypes, respectively. Age was not an important prognostic factor at a cutoff value of 55 or 60 years. We conclude that ASCT is a safe and effective procedure even in resistant cases. The outcome was independent of age, time from diagnosis, previous treatment and conditioning regimen, but there was a tendency for better survival in the nonsecretory patients.