High-risk myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) patients have usually a less favorable outcome after intensive treatment compared with de novo acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients. This may reflect different disease-related and patient-related factors. The purpose of this analysis is to identify disease-specific prognostic factors and to develop prognostic scores for both patient groups. A total of 692 patients in the EORTC/GIMEMA AML-10 study and 289 patients in the CRIANT study received identical remission-induction and consolidation treatment. Estimated 5-year survival rate was 34 % in the AML-10 versus 27 % in the CRIANT study, and estimated disease-free survival was 40 % versus 28 %, respectively. In multivariate analysis, cytogenetic characteristics, white blood count, and age appeared prognostic for survival in both studies. French-American-British (FAB) subtype and performance status were prognostic in the AML-10 study only, whereas number of cytopenias and duration of antecedent hematologic disorder >6 months were prognostic in the CRIANT study only. The prognostic scores distinguish three groups with a 5-year survival rate of 54, 38, and 19 % in the AML-10 study versus 69, 37, and 5 % in the CRIANT study. The prognostic value of these scores has been validated on two external series. The new scoring systems form a practical tool to predict the outcome of individual MDS and AML patients treated with intensive antileukemic therapy.