Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) from matched sibling donors has been useful for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in children with a poor prognosis but is not available to more than two-thirds of patients who do not have a matched allogeneic donor. This study was undertaken to assess one strategy of marrow graft rejection prevention when alternative marrow sources such as HLA-phenoidentical unrelated volunteers and HLA-partially incompatible relatives were used. Results have been compared with two matched groups of children with the same risks factors and disease status who underwent HLA-genoidentical or autologous BMT. The conditioning regimen was the same for the three groups of patients; in the study group anti-LFA-1 and anti-CD2 monoclonal antibodies combined with T-cell depletion of the marrow was added to prevent graft rejection and graft-versus-host disease. Nineteen patients were included and followed for a median of 25 months (14 months to 3 years). Bone marrow engraftment occurred in 83% of the evaluable patients. Post-transplantation infectious diseases were the most frequent causes of death in the study group, occurring in 31% of patients. No fatal infections occurred in the two control groups. Post-transplantation relapse of leukaemia occurred in 26% of study group's patients, in 58% of autologous BMT control group's patients and in 5% of HLA-genoidentical allogeneic group's patients. The event-free survival was 83% in the HLA-genoidentical control group, and 30% and 24% in the study group and in the autologous control group, respectively. In conclusion, a high rate of engraftment was achieved by the use of anti-LFA-1 and anti-CD2 antibodies. Occurrence of a long-lasting immunodeficiency, however, led to a high incidence of lethal infections and relapses. Combined approaches are therefore to be investigated accelerating immune reconstitution after transplantations of T-depleted HLA partially incompatible marrow.