We assessed clinical results in 145 patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia in chronic phase who satisfied criteria for interferon-alpha failure and were thus eligible for treatment with imatinib at the Hammersmith Hospital. We used univariate and multivariate analyses to develop a risk score based on features defined after treatment for 3 months. We identified a low neutrophil count and poor cytogenetic response (<35% Ph-negative marrow metaphases) at 3 months as principal independent predictive factors and incorporated them into a three-tier prognostic scoring system for individual patients. For patients in the low-, intermediate- and high-risk groups, the probabilities of survival at 24 months were 100, 82 and 40% (P<0.0001) and progression-free survival 100, 66 and 15% (P<0.0001), respectively. This Hammersmith prognostic scoring system was validated with an independent cohort of patients treated at another UK centre.