We report the long-term results of Tokyo Children's Cancer Study Group's studies L84-11, L89-12, L92-13, and L95-14 for 1846 children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which were conducted between 1984 and 1999. The value of event-free survival (EFS)+/-s.e. was 67.2+/-2.2% at 10 years in L84-11, which was not improved in the following two studies, and eventually improved to 75.0+/-1.8% at 10 years in L95-14 study. The lower EFS of the L89-12 reflected a high rate of induction failure because of infection and delayed remission in very high-risk patients. The L92-13 study was characterized by short maintenance therapy; it resulted in poor EFS, particularly in the standard-risk (SR) group and boys. Females did significantly better than males in EFS in the early three studies. The gender difference was not significant in overall survival, partly because >60% of the males survived after the testicular relapse. Randomized studies in the former three protocols revealed that intermediate- or high-dose methotrexate therapy significantly reduced the testicular relapse rate. In the L95-14 study, gender difference disappeared in EFS. Contrary to the results of larger-scale studies, the randomized control study in the L95-14 reconfirmed with updated data that dexamethasone 8 mg/m(2) had no advantage over prednisolone 60 mg/m(2) in the SR and intermediate-risk groups. Prophylactic cranial irradiation was assigned to 100, 80, 44, and 44% of the patients in the studies, respectively. Isolated central nervous system relapse rates decreased to <2% in the last two trials. Secondary brain tumors developed in 12 patients at 8-22 years after cranial irradiation. Improvement of the remission induction rates and the complete omission of irradiation are currently main objectives in our studies.