Twenty-four consecutive cases of malignant histiocytosis (MH) treated at Stanford Medical Center between 1973 and 1983 have been reviewed. Most patients presented with systemic symptoms (91%) and advanced disease (stage IV, 80%). Multiple organ involvement was common. In six cases, pathologic tissue was further characterized by frozen section immune histochemistry, using a panel of monoclonal antibodies known to react with monocytes and macrophages, as well as a variety of hematopoietic cells. One case expressed a mature monocyte/macrophage phenotype; three cases were considered null cell or primitive lesions; and two cases were identified as probable T cell lymphomas. Seven patients underwent splenectomy. Two patients died prior to any treatment. Twenty-two patients were treated with CHOP (cyclophosphamide, Adriamycin, vincristine, prednisone) +/- bleomycin (B), +/- midcycle high-dose methotrexate (HD-MTX) with leucovorin rescue. Seven patients received prophylactic intrathecal MTX. Of 22 evaluable patients, there was a 68% complete response rate (CR), a 23% partial response rate (PR), and a 9% no response rate (NR). Median duration of CR was 30+ months; median duration of PR was 2.4 months. Median survival for patients attaining a CR has not been reached v 3 months for the PR and NR groups. For all 24 patients, median survival was 2 years, with a 5-year actuarial survival of 40%. Multivariate analysis revealed that a platelet count less than 150,000 (P Cox = .005) and the dose of drug delivered (P Cox = .057) were the most important prognostic factors. Prophylactic intrathecal MTX therapy and splenectomy did not influence survival. Although MH is an aggressive disease with a poor prognosis, it is potentially curable. Systematic and aggressive treatment should further improve the outcome.