Clonal heterogeneity has not been described in patients with myelodysplastic syndrome with isolated del(5q), for which lenalidomide has emerged as a highly potent treatment. However, transformation to acute myeloid leukemia is occasionally observed, particularly in patients without a cytogenetic response to lenalidomide. We performed molecular studies in a patient with classical 5q- syndrome with complete erythroid and partial cytogenetic response to lenalidomide, who evolved to high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome with complex karyotype. Immunohistochemistry of pre-treatment marrow biopsies revealed a small fraction of progenitors with overexpression of p53 and sequencing confirmed a TP53 mutation. TP53 mutated subclones have not previously been described in myelodysplastic syndrome with isolated del(5q) and indicates a previously unknown heterogeneity of this disease. The aberrant subclone remained stable during the treatment with lenalidomide and expanded at transformation, suggesting that this pre-existing cell population had molecular features which made it insensitive to lenalidomide and prone to disease progression.