Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) comprise a heterogeneous group of clonal hematopoietic stem cell disorders characterized by dysplasia, ineffective hematopoiesis leading to peripheral blood cytopenias, and a variable risk of leukemic progression. MDS primarily affects the elderly, and although its prevalence is increasing, MDS is frequently overlooked and underdiagnosed. MDS should be suspected in any patient with unexplained cytopenias, and a bone marrow evaluation is ultimately needed to make the diagnosis and exclude other causes of bone marrow failure. The last 15 years have witnessed significant advances in our understanding of the complex pathogenesis, classification and prognostication, and therapeutic approaches to MDS. Several prognostic models facilitate outcome prediction and risk-adapted therapy. The addition of azacitidine, decitabine, and lenalidomide to erythropoiesis-stimulating agents in our armamentarium offered new effective therapeutic options for many patients who are not candidates for intensive interventions. Improved understanding of the genetic, epigenetic, and immunologic mechanisms that operate in MDS will help develop better prognostication tools and rationally design more effective therapies. Hospitalists are likely to encounter both patients with MDS and patients in whom MDS should be suspected. In this review of MDS, we focus on the epidemiology, diagnosis, pathogenesis, classification and prognostic tools, and treatment options. Journal of Hospital Medicine 2013;8:351-357. © 2013 Society of Hospital Medicine.