We have previously demonstrated haploinsufficiency of the ribosomal gene RPS14, which is required for the maturation of 40S ribosomal subunits and maps to the commonly deleted region, in the 5q- syndrome. Patients with Diamond-Blackfan anaemia (DBA) show haploinsufficiency of the closely related ribosomal protein RPS19, and show a consequent downregulation of multiple ribosomal- and translation-related genes. By analogy with DBA, we have investigated the expression profiles of a large group of ribosomal- and translation-related genes in the CD34(+) cells of 15 myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) patients with 5q- syndrome, 18 MDS patients with refractory anaemia (RA) and a normal karyotype, and 17 healthy controls. In this three-way comparison, 55 of 579 ribosomal- and translation-related probe sets were found to be significantly differentially expressed, with approximately 90% of these showing lower expression levels in the 5q- syndrome patient group. Using hierarchical clustering, patients with the 5q- syndrome could be separated both from other patients with RA and healthy controls solely on the basis of the deregulated expression of ribosomal- and translation-related genes. Patients with the 5q- syndrome have a defect in the expression of genes involved in ribosome biogenesis and in the control of translation, suggesting that the 5q- syndrome represents a disorder of aberrant ribosome biogenesis.