The curability of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in a fraction of adult patients was demonstrated a long time ago. Currently, the probability of cure is consistently above fifty per cent in patients with de novo disease expressing favourable-risk associated cytogenetic features. Even better, the cure rate exceeds 75% in the acute promyelocytic subtype since the introduction of retinoic acid-containing regimens. In the meantime, continuing progress in supportive care systems and stem cell transplant procedures is making myeloablative therapies, when needed, somewhat less toxic-and thereby more effective-than in the recent past. Therefore, evidence is accumulating to indicate an improved therapeutic trend over the years, with the notable exception of older (>55 years) patients with adverse-risk chromosomal aberrations and/or leukemia secondary to myelodysplasia or prior cancer-related chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. This review conveys the many facets of this progress, focusing on diagnostic subsets, risk classes, newer biological issues and conventional as well as innovative therapeutic interventions with or without autologous/allogeneic stem cell transplantation.