Combination chemotherapy with fludarabine plus cyclophosphamide (FC) was compared with the standard regimen of fludarabine monotherapy in first-line treatment of younger patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Between 1999 and 2003, a total of 375 patients younger than 66 years who predominantly had advanced CLL were randomly assigned to receive either fludarabine (25 mg/m(2) for 5 days intravenously, repeated every 28 days) or FC combination therapy (fludarabine 30 mg/m(2) plus cyclophosphamide 250 mg/m(2) for 3 days intravenously, repeated every 28 days). Both regimens were administered to a maximum of 6 courses. FC combination chemotherapy resulted in significantly higher complete remission rate (24%) and overall response rate (94%) compared with fludarabine alone (7% and 83%; P < .001 and P = .001). FC treatment also resulted in longer median progression-free survival (48 vs 20 months; P = .001) and longer treatment-free survival (37 vs 25 months; P < .001). Thus far, no difference in median overall survival has been observed. FC caused significantly more thrombocytopenia and leukocytopenia but did not increase the number of severe infections. In summary, first-line treatment with FC increases the response rates and the treatment-free interval in younger patients with advanced CLL.