We studied the radiosensitivity of granulocyte macrophage colony-forming units (GM-CFU) in patients with a severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). Three patients lacking both mature T and B cells showed a twofold higher GM-CFU radiosensitivity calculated as the DO value (dose required to reduce survival to 37%), and an identical observation was made with fibroblasts from one of these patients. A patient with an SCID with hypereosinophilia, i.e., Omenn's syndrome characterized by extremely restricted T cell heterogeneity and a lack of B cells, also showed abnormal GM-CFU radiosensitivity. In contrast, GM-CFU from a patient lacking only T cells (X-linked form of SCID) showed normal GM-CFU radiosensitivity. These data further support the similarity between human T(-) B(-) SCID and the murine acid mutation characterized by a defect in T cell receptor and immunoglobulin gene rearrangement, and by an abnormal double-strand DNA break repair function. In addition, they strongly suggest that the Omenn's immunodeficiency syndrome may be a leaky T(-)B(-) SCID phenotype as previously indicated by the coexistence of the two phenotypes in siblings.