In order to evaluate the risk of cytomegalovirus (CMV) associated disease after allogeneic stem cell transplantation (SCT), 158 consecutive patients at risk for infection were analyzed. BMT was performed in 101 patients and peripheral blood stem cell transplantation (PBSCT) in 57 patients. CMV antigenemia was found in 57 cases (56%) after BMT and 27 cases (47%) after PBSCT, respectively. CMV antigenemia resistant to a 14-day course of GCV was found in 26 patients (26%) after BMT but in only four patients (7%) after PBSCT (P < 0.01). Eighteen patients (11%) developed CMV disease, 14 post BMT and four post PBSCT. Lethal CMV-related interstitial pneumonia (CMV-IP) occurred in 13 cases of whom 12 patients were bone marrow recipients (P = 0.04). The subgroup of seronegative patients with a CMV seropositive donor had a significantly lower risk of developing CMV antigenemia, GCV-resistant CMV antigenemia (P < 0.01) and CMV-related disease (P = 0.01). In conclusion, the incidence of persistent CMV antigenemia and CMV-IP was significantly reduced when allogeneic transplantation was performed with peripheral blood stem cells instead of bone marrow. These findings suggest that our previous in vitro data on improved immune reconstitution after allogeneic PBSCT as compared to allogeneic BMT have clinical relevance.