Biphenotypic acute leukaemia (BAL) patients represented 8% of the 287 de novo consecutive adult acute leukaemias (23 BAL, 230 acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and 34 acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL)) referred to our department during the last 4-year period. Of these 23 BAL patients, 14 patients showed myeloid morphology and nine cases lymphoid morphology according to FAB criteria. There were no differences between lymphoid and myeloid BAL according to clinical and biological presentation and treatment outcome. We confirm the poor prognosis of BAL when compared to AML or ALL seen during the same period of time, in terms of complete remission (47%, 62% and 82% respectively, BAL v AML, NS and BAL v ALL, P = 0.006) and 4-year overall survival (8.1%, 25.8% and 23.8% respectively, BAL v AML, P = 0.05 and BAL v ALL, P = 0.003). Comparing adult BAL patients with AML patients, we found an increase in poor prognostic factors: CD34+ phenotype (82% v 60% respectively, P = 0.03), unfavourable karyotype (60% v 20%, P < 0.0001) and Pgp over-expression by RT-PCR (0.705 v 0.107, P < 0.0001) and flow cytometry (0.824 v 0.391, P = 0.0001). MRP and LRP were not found to be poor prognostic factors. Comparing BAL patients with ALL patients, we found also an increase in poor prognostic factors: age (51 v 39, P = 0.003) and CD34+ phenotype (82% v 50%, P = 0.02). We conclude that BAL patients need a more aggressive treatment procedure, including high-dose AraC or the use of Pgp modulators for first-line therapy.