It is currently unknown whether immunosuppressive therapy or hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is the most appropriate treatment strategy for children with refractory cytopenia and normal karyotype or trisomy 8. We report on 31 children with hypoplastic refractory cytopenia treated with immunosuppressive therapy consisting of antithymocyte globulin and cyclosporine. At 6 months, 22 of 29 evaluable patients had a complete or partial response; a total of ten patients achieved a complete response at varying time points. Six patients subsequently received a transplant because of non-response, progression to advanced myelodysplastic syndrome or evolution of monosomy 7. Overall and failure-free survival rates at 3 years were 88% and 57%, respectively.