The incidence of myelofibrosis (MF) among the three major Philadelphia chromosome-negative chronic myeloproliferative disorders, i.e. essential thrombocythaemia (ET), polycythaemia vera (PV) and chronic idiopathic myelofibrosis (CIMF), is not well documented since the diagnostic criteria have recently been redefined by the WHO. Therefore we performed a retrospective analysis of follow-up biopsies of 275 patients with ET, PV and CIMF according to the WHO classification of chronic myeloproliferative disorders. In the diagnostic bone marrow biopsies, MF was observed in 57 of the 136 CIMF patients (42%), 4 of the 73 PV patients (5%) and none of the 66 patients with ET. Within a median observation time of 2.9 years, 34 of the 79 patients with CIMF (43%), 13 of the 69 patients with PV (19%) and 1 of the 66 patients with ET (1.5%) – each initially without MF – developed MF regardless of myelosuppressive therapy.