Cord blood transplantation (CBT) is an effective therapeutic option for adults with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) after the conventional cyclophosphamide and total body irradiation (CY/TBI) regimen, but posttransplant relapse is still of high importance. High-dose cytarabine (HDCA) can be added to CY/TBI for an intensified regimen; however, its additional effects have not yet been completely elucidated. Therefore, we conducted a cohort study to compare the prognosis of HDCA/CY/TBI (n = 617) and CY/TBI (n = 312) in CBT for AML/MDS, using a Japanese transplant registry database. The median age was 40 years, and 86.2% of the patients had AML; high-risk disease was observed in 56.2% of the patients. The median follow-up period after CBT was approximately 3.5 years. Overall survival was significantly superior in the HDCA/CY/TBI group (adjusted hazard ratio [HR], 0.56; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.45-0.69; P < .01), and tumor-related mortality was lower (HR, 0.50; P < .01). The incidence of grade II to IV acute graft-vs-host disease (aGVHD) and chronic GVHD was significantly higher in the HDCA/CY/TBI group (HR, 1.33 and 2.30, respectively), but not grade III to IV aGVHD. Incidence of infectious episodes showed no significant difference. Nonrelapse mortality was not increased by the addition of HDCA. Higher-dose CA (12 rather than 8 g/m(2)) was more effective, particularly in patients at high-risk for disease. This study is the first to show the superiority of HDCA/CY/TBI to CY/TBI in CBT for AML/MDS. A large-scale prospective study is warranted to establish new conditioning regimens including HDCA administration.