We have detected trilineage myelodysplasia in two children recently diagnosed to have visceral leishmaniasis (V.L.), which led us to investigate retrospectively available peripheral blood and bone marrow aspirate smears of 5 children previously diagnosed as V.L. We saw that they also had trilineage myelodysplasia. We postulate that elevated levels of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) may cause trilineage myelodysplasia in the patients with V.L. This nonclonal myelodysplasia may be responsible for pancytopenia along with hypersplenism, hemolysis and reticuloendothelial hyperplasia causing abnormal retention of iron in V.L. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.