Eighty-four patients with typical chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) (by morphological and immunophenotypic criteria) on whom karyotypes were available were studied. Binet stage at diagnosis and follow-up were defined. Survival was calculated from diagnosis. Fifty-one percent of patients had a karyotypic abnormality, the commonest being abnormalities at 13q14 (16%); these patients did not have significantly different survival from patients with normal karyotype. The second commonest abnormality was del(11q) (13%); these patients had significantly worse survival when compared both with patients with normal karyotype (P < 0.0001) and with other patients with karyotypic abnormality (P = 0.0012). All patients with del(11q) had progressed to stage C at follow-up while only 20% of the other patients had shown any disease progression (P < 0.0001). Del(11q) may identify a subset of patients with typical CLL who have worse survival and consistent disease progression and in future may help define a group of patients with CLL who could benefit from earlier or more intensive therapy.