Absolute lymphocyte count (ALC) recovery postautologous stem cell transplantation is an independent predictor for survival in acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). The role of ALC recovery after induction chemotherapy (IC) in AML is unknown. We hypothesize that ALC recovery after IC has a direct impact on survival. We have now evaluated the impact of ALC recovery after IC on overall survival (OS) and leukemia-free survival (LFS) in 103 consecutive, newly diagnosed AML patients treated with standard IC and consolidation chemotherapy (CC) from 1998 to 2002. ALC recovery was studied at days 15 (ALC-15), 21 (ALC-21), 28 (ALC-28) after IC and before the first CC (ALC-CC). Superior OS and LFS at each time point were observed with an ALC-15, ALC-21, ALC-28, and ALC-CC > or = 500 cells/microl. Patients with an ALC > or = 500 cells/microl at all time points vs those who did not have superior OS and LFS (not reached vs 13 months, P<0.0001; and not reached vs 11 months, P<0.0001, respectively). Multivariate analysis demonstrated ALC > or = 500 cells/microl at all time points to be an independent prognostic factor for survival. Our data suggest a critical role of lymphocyte (immune) recovery on survival after IC in AML.