CD33, a 67-kDa glycoprotein expressed on the majority of myeloid leukemia cells as well as on normal myeloid and monocytic precursors, has been an attractive target for monoclonal antibody (mAb)-based therapy of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Lintuzumab, an unconjugated, humanized anti-CD33 mAb, has modest single-agent activity against AML but failed to improve patient outcomes in two randomized trials when combined with conventional chemotherapy. Gemtuzumab ozogamicin, an anti-CD33 mAb conjugated to the antitumor antibiotic calicheamicin, improved survival in a subset of AML patients when combined with standard chemotherapy, but safety concerns led to US marketing withdrawal. The activity of these agents confirms that CD33 remains a viable therapeutic target for AML. Strategies to improve the results of mAb-based therapies for AML include antibody engineering to enhance effector function, use of alternative drugs and chemical linkers to develop safer and more effective drug conjugates, and radioimmunotherapeutic approaches.