We report on a randomised trial that aimed to compare the efficacy of continued daily prednisolone treatment during the entire induction phase, with prednisolone given for 2 weeks of each cycle in combination with VMCP (vincristine, melphalan, cyclophosphamide, prednisolone)-interferon-alpha 2b (IFN-alpha 2b) treatment in 299 previously untreated elderly patients (median age: 67 years) with multiple myeloma. After completion of induction treatment patients were randomised to IFN-alpha 2b with or without prednisolone, thrice weekly. Response rate was 62% in the continuous and 60% in the control arm (intent to treat analysis, P=0.81). Progression-free survival [median: 20 months vs. 19 months; hazard ratio (HR): 0.99, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.74-1.33, P=0.97] and overall survival (median: 34 months vs. 37 months; HR: 1.16, 95% CI: 0.85-1.59, P=0.35) were similar in both groups. Reduced performance status (Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group, grades 2-4) was the predominant risk factor for poor survival followed by age >65 years, high beta2-microglobulin, and impaired renal function. There was more grades 3-4 dyspnoea and cardiac impairment and grades 1-2 hyperglycaemia, but less nausea, emesis and anaemia in patients on continuous prednisolone therapy. In conclusion, continuing prednisolone treatment during the entire duration of the induction phase with VMCP-IFN-alpha 2b did not improve outcome.