Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) can cure myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), although transplantation carries significant risks of morbidity and mortality. Because the optimal timing of HLA-matched BMT for MDS is unknown, we constructed a Markov model to examine 3 transplantation strategies for newly diagnosed MDS: transplantation at diagnosis, transplantation at leukemic progression, and transplantation at an interval from diagnosis but prior to leukemic progression. Analyses using individual patient risk-assessment data from transplantation and non-transplantation registries were performed for all 4 International Prognostic Scoring System (IPSS) risk groups with adjustments for quality of life (QoL). For low and intermediate-1 IPSS groups, delayed transplantation maximized overall survival. Transplantation prior to leukemic transformation was associated with a greater number of life years than transplantation at the time of leukemic progression. In a cohort of patients under the age of 40 years, an even more marked survival advantage for delayed transplantation was noted. For intermediate-2 and high IPSS groups, transplantation at diagnosis maximized overall survival. No changes in the optimal transplantation strategies were noted when QoL adjustments were incorporated. For low- and intermediate-1-risk MDS, delayed BMT is associated with maximal life expectancy, whereas immediate transplantation for intermediate-2- and high-risk disease is associated with maximal life expectancy.