Twenty-five transfusion-dependent myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) patients (with < 20% blasts) were treated in a phase II study with antithymocyte globulin (ATG) at 40 mg/kg/d for four doses and then followed with blood counts every 2 weeks and clinic visits every 3 months, for a median of 14 months (range 1–38 months). 11 (44%) patients responded and became transfusion-independent after ATG, including three complete responses, six partial responses, and two minimal responses. Responses were observed in 9/14 patients (64%) with refractory anaemia (RA) and 2/6 patients (33%) with refractory anaemia with excess blasts (RAEB). Median response duration was 10 months (range 3–38 months). The Kaplan-Meier estimate of overall survival was 84% at 38 months, with one early death due to pneumonia and two deaths from disease progression to leukaemia. Side-effects consisted mainly of mild serum sickness in all patients. A single course of ATG restored haemopoiesis in some patients with MDS and was well tolerated.