Amifostine is a phosphorylated aminothiol that has besides anti-oxidative and cytoprotective properties, also survival- and growth-promoting effects on hematopoietic progenitor cells. Clinical studies have demonstrated that infusions with amifostine are able to increase erythro-, myelo-, and thrombopoiesis in some patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Since clonal and non-clonal progenitors can coexist in early phase MDS, we have studied if amifostine exerts a selective growth-promoting effect on clonal or non-clonal cells. For this purpose, purified CD34(+) marrow progenitors from nine female MDS patients were grown in short- and long-term cultures. Clonality was studied on individual colonies using polymorphisms in the human androgen receptor assay (HUMARA) locus. Three patients had growth of residual non-clonal progenitors at baseline. Continuous exposure to 100nM amifostine exerted a growth-promoting effect on progenitors in 50% of the patients. HUMARA patterns of individual colony-forming unit granulocyte macrophage (CFU-GM; 5/9) and 5 week long-term culture-initiating cells (LTC-IC; 2/9) were compared without and with amifostine exposure. We did not observe preferential stimulation of clonal or non-clonal progenitors. Based on these results, the stimulation of committed and immature progenitor growth in MDS by amifostine, is non-selective and does not favor nor suppress the growth of residual non-clonal cells.