We retrospectively investigated the feasibility and the toxicity of autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) in 21 cases of systemic amyloidosis (AL). The conditioning regimens consisted of high-dose melphalan (HDM) alone (n = 18) or in combination with 12 Gy total body irradiation (n = 3). Toxic death rate was high: 9/21 patients (43%) died within the first month following ASCT, and 10/12 surviving patients achieved a response. With a median follow-up of 14 months, the OS and the EFS rates at 4 years were 57.1% (+/-10.8) and 29.9% (+/-14.5) respectively for the whole group. The major prognostic factor for both response and survival was the number of clinical manifestations at the time of ASCT, of the following five criteria, i.e. creatinine clearance < 30 ml/min, nephrotic syndrome with urinary protein excretion > 3000 mg/24 h, congestive heart failure, neuropathy, or hepatomegaly associated with alkaline phosphatase level > 200 IU/l. For patients presenting with two or more clinical manifestations the 4-year OS and EFS were both 11.1% compared with 91.7% and 46.3% respectively in patients with fewer than two clinical manifestations at the time of ACST. We conclude that ASCT is feasible in AL in a subset of patients with fewer than two clinical manifestations at the time of ASCT. Given the severe extra-haematological toxicity, ASCT should not be considered in other cases.