The chromosomal translocation t(8;21)(q22;q22) is one of the most frequent karyotypic aberrations in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and results in a chimeric fusion transcript AML1/MTG8. Since AML1/MTG8 fusion transcripts remain detectable by RT-PCR in t(8;21) AML patients in long-term hematological remission, quantitative assessment of AML1/MTG8 transcripts is necessary for the monitoring of minimal residual disease (MRD) in these patients. Competitive RT-PCR and recently real-time RT-PCR are increasingly used for detection and quantification of leukemia specific fusion transcripts. For the direct comparison of both methods we cloned a 42 bp DNA fragment into the original AML1/MTG8 sequence. The resulting molecule was used as an internal competitor for our novel competitive nested RT-PCR for AML1/MTG8 and as an external standard for the generation of AML1/MTG8 standard curves in a real-time PCR assay. Using this standard molecule for both PCR techniques, we compared their sensitivity, linearity and reproducibility. Both methods were comparable with regard to all parameters tested irrespective of analyzing serial dilutions of plasmids, cell lines or samples from t(8;21) positive AML patients at different stages of the disease. Therefore, both techniques can be recommended for the monitoring of MRD in these particular AML patients. However, the automatization of the real-time PCR technique offers some technical advantages.