Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML) is a hematologic malignancy nearly confined to the elderly. Previous studies to determine incidence and prognostic significance of somatic mutations in CMML have relied on candidate gene sequencing, although an unbiased mutational search has not been conducted. As many of the genes commonly mutated in CMML were recently associated with age-related clonal hematopoiesis (ARCH) and aged hematopoiesis is characterized by a myelomonocytic differentiation bias, we hypothesized that CMML and aged hematopoiesis may be closely related. We initially established the somatic mutation landscape of CMML by whole exome sequencing followed by gene-targeted validation. Genes mutated in ⩾10% of patients were SRSF2, TET2, ASXL1, RUNX1, SETBP1, KRAS, EZH2, CBL and NRAS, as well as the novel CMML genes FAT4, ARIH1, DNAH2 and CSMD1. Most CMML patients (71%) had mutations in ⩾2 ARCH genes and 52% had ⩾7 mutations overall. Higher mutation burden was associated with shorter survival. Age-adjusted population incidence and reported ARCH mutation rates are consistent with a model in which clinical CMML ensues when a sufficient number of stochastically acquired age-related mutations has accumulated, suggesting that CMML represents the leukemic conversion of the myelomonocytic-lineage-biased aged hematopoietic system.