Mixed lineage leukaemia gene-partial tandem duplications (MLL-PTD) characterise acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) with trisomy 11 and AML with a normal karyotype. MLL-PTD confer a worse prognosis with shortened overall and event free survival in childhood and adult AML. In spite of these clinical observations, the leukaemogenic mechanism has, so far, not been determined. This review summarises clinical studies on MLL-PTD positive AML and recent experimental findings on the putative leukaemogenic role of MLL-PTD. © 2006 The Authors.