The natural history and outcome of salvage treatment for patients with fludarabine-refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia who are either refractory to alemtuzumab ("double-refractory") or ineligible for alemtuzumab due to bulky lymphadenopathy ("bulky fludarabine-refractory") have not been described. We present the outcomes of 99 such patients (double-refractory n = 58, bulky fludarabine-refractory n = 41) undergoing their first salvage treatment at our center. Patients received a variety of salvage regimens including monoclonal antibodies (n = 15), single-agent cytotoxic drugs (n = 14), purine analogue combination regimens (n = 21), intensive combination chemotherapy (n = 36), allogeneic stem cell transplantation (SCT; n = 4), or other therapies (n = 9). Overall response to first salvage therapy other than SCT was 23%, with no complete responses. All four patients who underwent SCT as first salvage achieved complete remission. Early death (within 8 weeks of commencing first salvage) occurred in 13% of patients, and 54% of patients experienced a major infection during therapy. Overall survival was 9 months, with hemoglobin < 11 g/dL (hazard ratio 2.3), hepatomegaly (hazard ratio 2.4), and performance status > or = 2 (hazard ratio 1.9) being significant independent predictors of inferior survival.