This study analyses invasive fungal infections in neutropenic patients with haematological malignancies during antifungal prophylaxis with itraconazole. From September 1994 to December 1998 20 patients developed fungal infections. Two patients suffered from disseminated infections by yeasts and 18 patients suffered from pulmonary infections by moulds (eight proven, 10 highly probable in high-resolution CT scans). In these patients the itraconazole trough concentrations exceeded 500 ng ml-1 (measured by high performance liquid chromatography) significantly less often (median 48%, interquartile range 0-100%) than in another group of 150 leukaemia patients without invasive fungal infections who received 287 courses of prophylaxis with itraconazole at our institution (median 100%, interquartile range 38-100%, P = 0.039). Twelve patients died, six of these had refractory disease. Patients with fatal invasive fungal infections had lower median itraconazole concentrations immediately before occurrence of the infection than patients with non-fatal infections: 120 (0-478) ng ml-1 versus 690 (305-1908) ng ml-1 (P = 0.039). In conclusion, this analysis of breakthrough invasive fungal infections during prophylaxis with itraconazole demonstrates that patients with itraconazole trough concentrations below 500 ng ml-1 were significantly more likely to develop fungal infections and that the last itraconazole trough concentration before occurrence of the infection was significantly lower in patients with fatal invasive fungal infections.