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Summary. Patients with acute myeloid leukaemia who fail to show substantial bone marrow cytoreduction by day 6 of induction therapy enter complete remission (CR) less frequently than patients with good bone marrow leukaemic cytoreduction. The objective of the current study was to determine whether an increase in the intensity of therapy on days 8, 9 and 10 (‘augmentation’ of remission induction therapy) for patients with poor bone marrow cytoreduction detected in the day 6 bone marrow could improve the complete remission rate without increasing the number of toxic deaths. Patients from six centres were entered and treated with standard dose ara-C for 7 or 10 d and an anthracycline for the first 3 d. Patients aged less than 60 years and with > 30% bone marrow biopsy cellularity or > 10% abnormal cells on the aspirate obtained 6 d after the start of therapy were augmented with cytosine arabinoside 3 g/m2 every 12 h on days 8, 9 and 10. Therapy was augmented in 116 of the 252 patients <60 years. There was a highly statistically significant difference between augmented and nonaugmented patients (P<0.001) for the per cent biopsy cellularity and per cent abnormal cells in the day 6 marrow. The CR rate for augmented patients was 69% and for nonaugmented patients 60% suggesting that augmentation therapy abrogated the prognostic significance of more extensive residual leukaemia in the day 6 bone marrow. The results suggest that augmentation of remission induction for patients with poor bone marrow cytoreduction detected 6 d after initiation of therapy, may salvage patients who are destined to fail remission induction because of resistant disease without producing excessive toxicity.