Data on 1711 patients, aged up to 55 years, in the MRC AML 10 trial were used to create a prognostic index for use in risk-directed therapy decision making for younger patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Two parameters, response after course 1 and cytogenetics, were strongly predictive of outcome. For patients with complete remission, partial remission and resistant disease, 5-year survival from the start of course 2 was 53%, 44% and 22% and relapse rates were 46%, 48% and 69% respectively, and for patients with favourable, intermediate and adverse karyotypic abnormalities, survival was 72%, 43% and 17% and relapse rates were 34%, 51% and 75% respectively (all P < 0.0001). Patients with FAB type M3 but no cytogenetic t(15;17) also had a low relapse rate (29%). These three factors were combined to give three risk groups: good (favourable karyotype or M3, irrespective of response status or presence of additional abnormalities), standard (neither good nor poor), poor (adverse karyotype or resistant disease, and no good-risk features). Survival for these three groups was 70%, 48% and 15% respectively and relapse rates were 33%. 50% and 78% (both P < 0.0001). The index is simple (based on just three parameters), robust (derived from 1711 patients), highly discriminatory (55% survival difference between good and poor risk) and validated, so can be applied in the clinical setting to assist with therapeutic decisions as in the current AML 12 trial.