We conducted a clinical trial to assess the feasibility and efficacy of CD33-directed chimeric antigen receptor-modified T cells (CART-33) for the treatment of refractory acute myeloid leukemia (AML). A 41-year-old male patient with AML was enrolled and received a total of 1.12 × 10(9) autologous CART-33 cells, of which ~38% were transduced with CAR. The CART-33 infusion alone induced rigorous chills and fevers; drastic fluctuations of his preexisting pancytopenia; elevated serum cytokine levels, including interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, tumor necrosis factor-α, and interferon-γ; slight transient hyperbilirubinemia within 2 weeks; a subsequent intermittent moderate fever; and reversed fluctuation of the pancytopenia. A marked decrease of blasts in the bone marrow was observed on examination 2 weeks after therapy, and there was a gradual increase until florid disease progression occurred at 9 weeks after the cell infusion. These observations warrant further research on CART-33 treatment in refractory AML and may spur efforts to extend the CART-33-induced tumor burden to the preparation of other intensive strategies, such as hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. This study is registered at www.ClinicalTrials.gov as NCT01864902.