To determine whether patients with a HLA-identical sibling donor have a better outcome than patients without a donor, an analysis on the basis of intention-to-treat principles was performed within the framework of the EORTC-GIMEMA randomized phase III AML 8A trial. Patients in complete remission (CR) received one intensive consolidation course. Patients with a histocompatible sibling donor were then allocated allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (alloBMT), the patients without a donor were randomized between autologous BMT (ABMT) and a second intensive consolidation (IC2). 831 patients <46 years old and alive >8 weeks from diagnosis were included. HLA typing was performed in 672 patients. AlloBMT was performed during CR1 in 180 (61%) out of 295 patients with a donor. Another 38 patients were allografted: five in resistant disease, 14 during relapse and 19 in CR2. ABMT was performed in 130 (34%) out of 377 patients without a donor in CR1, in six (2%) patients during relapse and in 38 (10%) patients during CR2. The disease-free survival (DFS) from CR for patients with a donor was significantly longer than for patients without a donor (46% v 33% at 6 years; P = 0.01, RR 0.78, 95% confidence interval 0.63–0.96). The overall survival from diagnosis for patients with a donor was longer, but not statistically significant, than for patients without a donor (48% v 40% at 6 years; logrank P = 0.24). When patients were stratified according to prognostic risk groups, the same trend in favour of patients with a donor was seen for survival duration and the DFS remained significantly longer for this group of patients.