The objective of the study was to investigate factors related to the occurrence of myelodysplatic syndromes (MDS) in the population of Belgrade (Serbia Montenegro). The case-control study was conducted during the period 2000-2003. The study group consisted of 80 newly diagnosed MDS patients and 160 sex- and age-matched hospital controls with nonmalignant and noninfectious diseases. The disease categories in the control group were circulatory (51 patients, 32%), gastrointestinal (53 patients, 33%), and ophthalmological (56 patients, 35%) disorders. Conditional univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were applied. Multivariate analysis showed the following factors to be significantly related to MDS: exposure to chemicals (OR = 10.8, 95%CI 3.2-36.2, p = 0.0001), viral upper respiratory tract infections (twice a year or more, OR = 5.8, 95%CI 2.5-13.6, p = 0.0001), exposure to insecticides, pesticides and herbicides (OR = 5.2, 95%CI 1.8-15.1, p = 0.003), coffee (OR = 5.1, 95%CI 1.9-13.7, p = 0.001), and alcohol consumption (OR = 2.2, 95%CI 1.1-4.6, p = 0.033). The findings support the hypotheses that exposure to chemical agents, pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides, certain lifestyle factors (alcohol and coffee consumption), and frequent viral infections may be involved in the etiology of MDS, but these results should be confirmed by further investigations.