Circulating myeloid and lymphoid precursor dendritic cell (pDC) counts were determined in peripheral blood from 22 patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) by a single-platform flow cytometric protocol. The absolute count of myeloid and lymphoid pDC, as well as their relative number (as proportion of mononuclear cells or total leukocytes) was significantly lower in MDS (n=22) than in healthy controls (n=41). In 11 patients with chromosomal aberrations, purified pDC were examined by interphase fluorescence in situ hybridization. This revealed clonal involvement of myeloid as well as lymphoid pDC in all of them. These data therefore strongly suggest that myeloid and lymphoid pDC share a common precursor. Whether reduced peripheral blood counts of pDC contribute to the immunological abnormalities observed in MDS remains to be investigated.