We recently reported an internal tandem duplication of the human flt3 receptor gene (FLT3) as a somatic mutation in 17% of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). The present study revealed the duplication at the juxtamembrane and the first tyrosine kinase domains of FLT3 in seven of 92 (8%) patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and AML with trilineage myelodysplasia (AML/TMDS), the diseases which may represent neoplastic changes of pluripotent stem cells. A tandem duplication of exon 11 of FLT3 was harbored by two of 58 (3%) patients with MDS and five of 34 (15%) with overt leukemia, including MDS-derived leukemia, AML/TMDS and therapy-related leukemia. Although the duplicated regions varied within exon 11 in each case, they occurred in-frame, and altered mRNA expressions were demonstrated by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction. Two cases of MDS with a FLT3 duplication transformed to overt leukemia within a few months. Longitudinal analyses in two other patients with leukemia revealed that the duplication was a late genetic event during the disease course; one of whom showed two independent duplications of FLT3 at the terminal therapy-resistant phase. Of seven patients with the FLT3 duplication, six had abnormal karyotypes, and four harbored a point mutation of the N-RAS and/or TP53 genes. Patients with FLT3 mutations have poor prognoses. This study uncovered the fact that the accumulation of genetic events, including FLT3 duplication, correlates with leukemic transformation from antecedent myelodysplasia and with subsequent disease progression.