We retrospectively reviewed the engraftment kinetics following unrelated cord blood transplantation (CBT) in association with the post-thaw colony-forming units-granulocyte/macrophage (CFU-GM) number along with the numbers of total nucleated cells (TNC), CD34(+) cells and CD3(+) cells. A total of 71 cord blood units prepared for 53 patients (double-unit CBT in 18 patients) were evaluated. Either the number of infused CFU-GM or CD34(+) cells was significantly lower in patients who failed to achieve engraftment (P=0.028 and 0.005, respectively). Post-thaw CFU-GM, TNC and CD34(+) cells correlated with the speed of neutrophil engraftment (P=0.004, 0.037 and 0.004, respectively), whereas only CFU-GM showed a significant correlation with platelet engraftment (r=-0.385, P=0.024). In double-unit transplants, the number of CFU-GM was the only significant factor predicting engraftment of the predominating unit (P=0.006). We conclude that the post-thaw CFU-GM number is a reliable predictor of rapid engraftment after CBT as well as of the predominating unit in double-unit transplants. Thus, it would be important to perform post-thaw CFU-GM assay on cryopreserved aliquots from several candidate cord blood units in advance before CBT to avoid selecting the unit that might possess a low clonogenic potential.