The Southeastern Cancer Study Group conducted a post-remission induction randomized trial in adult acute myelogenous leukemia to assess the efficacy of alternate drug therapy during consolidation and of immunotherapy during maintenance. Of 508 evaluable patients entered into the study, 335 (66%) achieved a complete remission treated with a 7-day infusion of cytosine arabinoside at a dose of 100 mg/sq m/day and 3 days of daunorubicin at a dose of 45 mg/sq m/day. Those in remission were randomized to receive 3 courses of 1 of 3 consolidation regimens: (A) a continuous infusion of 5-azacytidine, 150 mg/sq m/day for 5 days; (B) 5-azacytidine plus beta-deoxythioguanosine, 300 mg/sq m/day for 5 days; or (C) cytosine arabinoside, 100 mg/sq m/day intravenously, and thioguanine, 100 mg/sq m orally every 12 hr, plus daunorubicin, 10 mg/sq m every 24 hr daily for 5 days. There was no difference in relapse rate among the 3 arms. Those completing consolidation and remaining in remission were randomized to 1 of 3 maintenance regimens: (D) chemotherapy, 5-day infusion of cytosine arabinoside and 2 days of daunorubicin (same doses as induction) given every 13 wk for 1 yr; (E) BCG given twice weekly for 1 mo and then monthly for 1 yr; or (F) the combination of regimens D and E. The median duration of remission was significantly better on regimen D (17.4 versus 9.4 and 9.5 mo), and median survival was 29 mo compared to 21 mo for the other regimens. Those given different drugs during consolidation than used for induction (regimens A and B) and subsequent chemotherapy for maintenance (regimen D) had the longest remission durations and survival. Immunotherapy was not as good as intensive chemotherapy for maintenance.