This retrospective study presents data from 105 consecutive multiple myeloma and lymphoma patients who had PB CD34+ cell counts <10/μL on day 4 of steady-state G-CSF mobilization for autologous hematopoietic cell transplantation. Our results confirm the capacity of plerixafor to improve mobilization outcomes in this clinical setting. In addition, they show that the effectiveness of plerixafor, compared with G-CSF only, translates to patients with very low (<3.5/μL) circulating CD34+ cell counts: overnight CD34+ cell count expansion (5.3- vs 1.7-fold), overall CD34+ cell yield (2.29 vs 0.15 × 10(6) CD34+ cells per kg) and patients yielding ⩾2 × 10(6) CD34+ cells per kg (63% vs 3%). Furthermore, our data also show that preemptive plerixafor is significantly more effective and more efficient than in remobilization: CD34+ cell yield in the first apheresis (3.28 vs 2.0 × 10(6) CD34+ cells per kg) and overall (3.73 vs 2.44 × 10(6) CD34+ cells per kg), patients yielding ⩾2 × 10(6) CD34+ cells per kg in the first apheresis (85% vs 44%) and overall (92% vs 64%), all this requiring less days and doses of plerixafor treatment (1.08 vs 1.48). These data would advocate using plerixafor as an early preemptive intervention based on day 4 circulating CD34+ counts, including very high-risk patients with very low circulating levels.