This problem is addressed in ArcGIS 8.1 Service Pack 1. See the Related Information section to download this pack.
Using DB2, compression fails when the SDE.STATES table has 202 states.
An error inside the DB_sp_states_def_delete function causes the compression to fail when SDE.STATES table has exactly 202 states (also fails for 402, 602, 200xN+2, etc.).