High-dose intravenous gammaglobulin (polyvalent immunoglobulin G) has been shown to be of benefit in some patients with immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), possibly by producing reticuloendothelial system blockade. We studied this approach in patients refractory to random donor platelet transfusion using an IV IgG preparation manufactured by the Swiss Red Cross. Eleven adult patients with acute leukemia received either 0.4 g IgG/kg/d intravenously X five days (four patients) or 0.6 g/kg/d X five days (seven patients). All patients had high levels of lymphocytotoxic antibody and poor responses to random donor platelets. Except for mild headaches in two patients, there were no side effects related to the IgG infusions. All patients had significant elevations of serum IgG on the day after completion of treatment. Either random donor or partially HLA-matched platelet transfusions were administered the day after and, in some cases, during the IgG therapy. No patient had an improvement in one hour posttransfusion platelet count increments. Two additional patients received pooled platelet concentrates incubated for 30 minutes at 37 degrees C with IgG at a final concentration of 3 g% prior to transfusions. These results indicate that high-dose IgG, an extremely expensive treatment, cannot be recommended for alloimmunized adults with leukemia.