We designed a treatment program to improve the outcome for adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Treatment included a remission- induction phase followed by intensive alternating cycles of non-cross- resistant chemotherapy and prolonged oral maintenance therapy. Eighty- one consecutive previously untreated patients were entered on this study. Ninety-four percent of patients entered complete remission. A Kaplan-Meier analysis predicts that 53% +/- 9% (SEM) of patients in remission will remain free of disease at 3 years. Neither age, sex, WBC count, nor immunophenotype had a significant effect on remission duration. This program of intensive cyclical chemotherapy has improved the disease-free survival of patients with adult ALL.