Myelofibrosis with myeloid metaplasia (MMM) is an uncommon disorder in young individuals, for whom haemopoietic stem cell transplantation offers the only possibility of cure. However, although the latter procedure is associated with significant morbidity and mortality, the clinical course of MMM is variable, with some patients surviving for less than a year and others showing an indolent course. Selection of young MMM patients for transplantation or other newer therapies is currently difficult since no prognostic data exists for this subgroup. In the present collaborative study a number of initial clinical and laboratory parameters have been evaluated for prognosis in 121 MMM patients aged 55 years or less. Median survival of the series was 128 months (95% CI 90-172). In the Cox proportional hazard regression model three initial variables were independently associated with shorter survival: Hb <10 g/dl (P <0.0001), the presence of constitutional symptoms (fever, sweats, weight loss) (P=0.001), and circulating blasts >/=1% (P=0.003). Based on the above three criteria, of the 116 patients with complete data, two groups were identified: a 'low-risk' group, characterized by 88 patients with up to one adverse prognostic factor, in whom MMM had an indolent course (median survival 176 months, 95% CI 130-188), and a 'high-risk' group, including 28 patients with two or three factors, who had a more aggressive disease (median survival 33 months, 95% CI 20-42). The above prognostic scoring system showed a high positive predictive value, sensitivity and specificity to predict survival in the series, and could be of help in making treatment decisions in young patients with MMM.