We analyzed the effect of antithymocyte globulin (ATG) with or without androgens in 121 patients with aplastic anemia. Fifty-three patients with moderate to severe aplastic anemia were prospectively randomized to receive ATG with or without oral androgens. Eleven of 26 patients (42%) receiving ATG plus androgen responded, including three complete and eight partial responses. Twelve of 27 patients (44%) receiving ATG plus placebo responded, including five complete and seven partial responses. The difference in response rates was not significant (P greater than .9). Survival was also comparable in the two groups; for patients with severe aplastic anemia, actuarial survival at two years was 55% +/- 24% (95% confidence interval) in patients receiving ATG plus androgen compared with 50% +/- 24% in the ATG plus placebo group (P = .65). Furthermore, results in both groups were indistinguishable from those obtained in 68 historical controls receiving ATG without androgens. These data indicate that androgens are not required in order to respond to antithymocyte globulin and the addition of androgens, as used in this trial, did not significantly improve response rates to ATG treatment.