In vitro studies have demonstrated that surface expression of CD49d on chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) B cells facilitates leukaemic cell-stromal interactions by binding to fibronectin. This interaction reduces both spontaneous and drug-induced apoptosis. The present study measured CD49d expression by flow cytometry in a cohort of untreated CLL patients previously accrued to a prospective observational study and evaluated the relationship with overall survival (OS). Among the 158 CLL patients tested, the percentage of leukaemic B cells expressing CD49d ranged from 0 to 100%. When all risk factors were treated as continuous variables, CD49d expression showed moderate correlation with expression of ZAP-70 (r = 0.54; P < 0.0001) and CD38 (r = 0.58; P < 0.0001) but not %IGHV mutation. As a continuous variable, CD49d expression strongly correlated with OS (P < 0.0001). Recursive partitioning analysis suggested the 45% threshold of CD49d expression best predicted OS. Multivariate analysis, controlling for disease stage, ZAP-70, IGHV status and fluorescent in situ hybridization defects identified CD49d as an independent predictor of OS and was a better predictor of clinical outcome than ZAP-70, IGHV, or cytogenetics. This observational cohort study suggests that CLL B-cell expression of CD49d is an easily measurable and independent predictor of OS and CD49d expression in CLL. Importantly, anti-CD49d antibodies are already approved for treatment of other human diseases. Clinical testing of anti-CD49d therapy in CLL appears warranted.