BACKGROUND: The criteria by Camitta for diagnosis in severe aplastic anemia (SAA) has been used since 1976. However, there has been no attempt to verify the Camitta's criteria, that the survival in patients with SAA may differ by absolute neutrophil count (ANC), platelet count (PLT), and corrected reticulocyte count (CRC), which are components of the Camitta's criteria. METHODS: 117 SAA patients diagnosed by the Camitta's criteria were analyzed, retrospectively. Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to evaluate the factors affecting overall survival (OS). RESULTS: Response by immunosuppressive therapy (IST) or stem cell transplantation (SCT) significantly affected OS (P=0.001). Therefore, we excluded treatment responders for analysis. Finally, 92 SAA patients including treatment non-responders by IST or SCT and conservative care group were analyzed by using univariate and multivariate analyses. The median age of analyzed patients was 54.5 years. Male to female ratio was 1:1. The median follow-up duration was 74.23 months (range, 54.71-93.74 months). The median ANC, PLT, and CRC were 394/microL, 12,000/microL, and 0.39%, respectively. In multivariate analyses, ANC <500/microL or > or =500/microL (P=0.015, HR 2.694, 95% CI: 1.20-6.01) and age (P=0.015, HR 1.022, 95% CI: 1.00-1.04) were the significant factors for OS. CONCLUSION: ANC could be an essential, not an optional criterion for diagnosing SAA. This study suggests the possibility that the Camitta's criteria be modified. Studies in large cohorts are needed to transform the Camitta's criteria.