There is evidence that leukocytosis is associated with an increased risk of first thrombosis in patients with polycythemia vera (PV) and essential thrombocythemia (ET). Whether it is a risk factor for recurrent thrombosis too is currently unknown. In the frame of a multicenter retrospective cohort study, we recruited 253 patients with PV (n = 133) or ET (n = 120), who were selected on the basis of a first arterial (70%) or venous major thrombosis (27.6%) or both (2.4%), and who were not receiving cytoreduction at the time of thrombosis. The probability of recurrent thrombosis associated with the leukocyte count recorded at the time of the first thrombosis was estimated by a receiver operating characteristic analysis and a multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression model. Thrombosis recurred in 78 patients (30.7%); multivariable analysis showed an independent risk of arterial recurrence (hazard ratio [HR] 2.16, 95% CI 1.12–4.18) in patients with a leukocyte count that was >12.4 × 109/L at the time of the first thrombotic episode. The prognostic role for leukocytosis was age-related, as it was only significant in patients that were aged <60 years (HR for arterial recurrence 3.35, 95% CI 1.22–9.19). Am. J. Hematol., 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.