Patients with haematological malignancies form one of the most susceptible host groups for microbial infection, especially during neutropenia. The incidence of invasive fungal infections has increased in recent years, highlighting the need for better diagnosis and more effective antifungal therapies. Amphotericin B is the drug of choice for many fungal infections, although toxicity and the need for intravenous infusion restrict its use. When possible, oral administration of antifungal agents is preferable but intravenous administration is often needed and current oral agents have their limitations: fluconazole because of a narrow spectrum of activity; itraconazole capsules because of erratic absorption. In this review, prophylactic and treatment options for systemic fungal infections are discussed. The specific needs of patients with different types of leukaemia and the benefits of new amphotericin B and itraconazole formulations are examined. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. and International Society of Chemotherapy. All rights reserved.