Umbilical cord blood (UCB) transplantation is potentially curative for acute leukemia. This analysis was performed to identify risk factors associated with leukemia relapse following myeloablative UCB transplantation. Acute leukemia patients (n = 177; 88 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and 89 with acute myeloid leukemia) were treated at a single center. Patients received a UCB graft composed of either 1 (47%) or 2 (53%) partially human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-matched unit(s). Conditioning was with cyclophosphamide and total body irradiation with or without fludarabine. The incidence of relapse was 26% (95% confidence interval [CI], 19%-33%). In multivariate analysis, relapse was higher in advanced disease patients (≥ third complete remission [CR3]; relative risk [RR], 3.6; P < .01), with a trend toward less relapse in recipients of 2 UCB units (RR = 0.6; P = .07). However, relapse was lower for CR1-2 patients who received 2 UCB units (RR 0.5; P < .03). Leukemia-free survival was 40% (95% CI, 30%-51%) and 51% (95% CI, 41%-62%) for single- and double-unit recipients, respectively (P = .35). Although it is known that transplantation in CR1 and CR2 is associated with less relapse risk, this analysis reveals an enhanced graft-versus-leukemia effect in acute leukemia patients after transplantation with 2 partially HLA-matched UCB units. This trial was registered at http://clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00309842.