Summary. Phosphorylation of PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homologue) affects PTEN protein stability and function. In this study, phosphorylated PTEN (pPTEN) was observed in 45 (73·8%) of 61 cases with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Phosphorylation of Akt and its downstream molecules [FKHR; Forkhead (Drosophila) homologue 1; and GSK-3β; glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta] was significantly associated with pPTEN (P < 0·001). The complete remission rates were not different with respect to pPTEN, but overall survival was significantly shorter in patients with pPTEN (P < 0·05). Constitutive PTEN phosphorylation may add insight into the molecular pathogenesis of AML, and may be a new parameter for an unfavourable outcome.