We have reviewed the initial diagnostic bone marrow aspirate and biopsy specimens performed on the same date on 92 patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), 100 patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), 24 patients with chronic granulocytic leukaemia (CGL), 19 patients with polycythemia vera (PV) and essential thrombocythemia (ET). An excellent assessment of cellularity by aspirate and biopsy was found. The estimation of BM cellularity for each group was utilized with and without age adjustment based on normal marrow biopsies. Without correcting the BM cellularity for age it was observed that the median BM cellularity was >50% in AML, CGL, PV and ET. In contrast, the median BM cellularity was estimated at 40% for MDS. In the age group 70 years and beyond the median BM cellularity was not changed in CGL, PV and ET, and only slightly decreased (35%) in MDS. However, a trend from hypercellularity to normocellularity was observed in patients with AML in this age group. By utilizing anatomic comparisons with normal age the corrected data disclosed that all patients with CGL, PV and ET, 63% of patients with AML and only 35% of patients with MDS had hypercellular BM according to their age, while only two patients with AML and seven patients with MDS were found to be truly hypocellular by age. The optimal cut-off value for definition of hypocellular AML and hypocellular MDS, and differences between MDS and other myeloid stem cell disorders in terms of BM cellularity have been discussed.