We conducted a prospective, double-blind controlled study to determine the efficacy of a recombinant granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G- CSF, 200 microgram/m2) starting daily from 2 days before an induction therapy until neutrophils recovered to above 1,500/microL or until 35 days after the therapy in 58 patients with relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Twenty-eight patients in the G-CSF group showed significantly faster recovery of neutrophils (P < .001) than 30 patients in the placebo group. The incidence of febrile episodes and of documented infections was almost the same in both groups. However, among 39 patients who did not show any infectious episodes during the 2- week period after the start of chemotherapy, the incidence of documented infections after the third week tended to be lower in the G- CSF group, but not statistically significantly. There was no evidence that G-CSF stimulated the growth of AML cells in the bone marrow during the 2-day period before the chemotherapy, nor that G-CSF accelerated the regrowth of AML cells during the 5-week period after the therapy. Fifty percent of patients in the G-CSF group and 37% in the placebo group had complete remission (CR). Although the rate was higher in the G-CSF group, the difference was not statistically significant (P = .306). There was no difference between the two groups in event-free survival of all patients and in disease-free survival of patients who had achieved CR.