The time to neutrophil engraftment for adult patients after myeloablative double unit umbilical cord blood (UCB) transplantation is 23 days when the two units are given i.v. We hypothesized that the intra-BM injection (IBMI) of one of the two UCB units would reduce systemic loss of hematopoietic progenitors and shorten time to neutrophil recovery after myeloablation. Ten patients with a median age of 35 years were transplanted. The unit to be given by IBMI was randomly assigned; the other unit was given i.v. The median infused graft total nucleated cell dose was 3.7 x 10(7)/kg with no difference between i.v. and IBMI units. All patients tolerated the procedure well, and there was no severe adverse event related to IBMI. The median time to neutrophil engraftment and plt recovery >50 000/microl was 21 and 69 days, respectively. In all, 9 of 10 patients engrafted, 5 with the i.v. unit and 4 with the IBMI unit; 7 of 8 evaluable patients developed acute GVHD and 5 of 10 patients died from treatment-related causes. Survival was 47% at 1 year. Despite safety of administration, IBMI of one of two UCB units did not shorten the time to neutrophil engraftment and offers no advantage over conventional double unit transplantation.