Recent studies suggest that leukocytapheresis with Cellsorba is a valuable therapy for ulcerative colitis after failure of conventional treatment. In this study the potential of leukocytapheresis to induce remission in refractory chronic colitis under the conditions of European treatment guidelines was investigated. The therapeutic benefit of leukocytapheresis in the maintenance of remission was additionally elucidated. Twenty patients were treated weekly for 5 weeks. A significant decrease in the activity index was observed. Fourteen patients achieved clinical remission, and mucosal healing was observed endoscopically in six patients. After randomization these 14 patients in remission entered a second period of either monthly leukocytapheresis or no further treatment. In both groups steroids were tapered down. After 6 months, only one patient in the control group remained in remission, in contrast to five of eight patients in the leukocytapheresis group. In conclusion, leukocytapheresis may offer a therapeutic option in the induction and the maintenance of remission in chronic active ulcerative colitis.