Abstract Background Umbilical cord blood (UCB) is an alternative graft source for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and has been shown to give results comparable to transplantation with other stem cell sources. Donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI) is an effective treatment for relapsed malignancies after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. However, DLI is not available after UCB transplantation. Methods In this study, in vitro–cultured T cells from the UCB graft were explored as an alternative to conventional DLI. The main aim was to study the safety of the cultured UCB T cells used as DLI because such cell preparations have not been used in this context previously. We also assessed potential benefits of the treatment. Results The cultured UCB T cells (UCB DLI) were given to 4 patients with mixed chimerism (n = 2), minimal residual disease (n = 1) and graft failure (n = 1). No adverse reactions were seen at transfusion. Three of the patients did not show any signs of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after UCB DLI, but GVHD could not be excluded in the last patient. In the patient with minimal residual disease treated with UCB DLI, the malignant cell clone was detectable shortly before infusion but undetectable at treatment and for 3 months after infusion. In 1 patient with mixed chimerism, the percentage of recipient cells decreased in temporal association with UCB DLI treatment. Conclusions We saw no certain adverse effects of treatment with UCB DLI. Events that could indicate possible benefits were seen but with no certain causal association with the treatment.