Oral melphalan and dexamethasone (MDex) is a standard treatment for patients with AL amyloidosis who are not eligible for stem cell transplantation at many referral centers. However, following encouraging reports on the activity of bortezomib combined with alkylators and dexamethasone, these combinations are being moved to frontline therapy. We compared the outcome of 87 patients treated with bortezomib plus MDex (BMDex) with that of 87 controls treated with MDex. Patients and controls were matched for age, cardiac and renal function and free light chain burden. A higher rate of complete responses was observed with BMDex (42 vs 19%), but this did not result in a survival improvement in the overall population. However, a significant survival advantage for BMDex was observed in patients without severe (New York Heart Association class III or IV) heart failure and with N-terminal pro-natriuretic peptide type-B <8500 ng/l. Patients treated with full-dose dexamethasone had similar response rates and survival whether they received bortezomib or not. Intermediate-risk patients who are not fit enough to receive high-dose dexamethasone are likely to take the greatest advantage from the addition of bortezomib to MDex.