Several in vitro studies have shown that dexamethasone (Dex) and prednisolone can induce differentiation of some mouse and human myeloid leukemic cells to macrophages and granulocytes. Based on in vitro experiments, we have shown that short-course (3-7 days) highdose methylprednisolone (HDMP) (20-30mg/kg/day) treatment can induce differentiation of myeloid leukemic cells in vivo in children with different subtypes of acute mycloblastic leukemia (AML) (AML-M1, -M2, -M3, -M4, -M7). We have also shown that induction of apoptosis of myeloid leukemic cells with or without differentiation is possible by short-course HDMP treatment. In addition, short-course HDMP treatment has been shown to be effective in accelerating leukocyte recovery, possibly stimulating normal CD34-positive hematopoietic progenitor cells. Addition of HDMP to mild cytotoxic chemotherapy (low-dose cytosine arabinoside (LD-Ara-c), weekly mitoxantrone and Ara-c or 6-thioguanine) increased the remission rate (87-89%) and improved the outcome of AML children. We believe that the results of our 17-year clinical experience will provide important benefits to AML patients. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.