In the phase 3 Evaluating Nilotinib Efficacy and Safety in Clinical Trials-Newly Diagnosed Patients (ENESTnd) study, nilotinib resulted in earlier and higher response rates and a lower risk of progression to accelerated phase/blast crisis (AP/BC) than imatinib in patients with newly diagnosed chronic myeloid leukemia in chronic phase (CML-CP). Here, patients' long-term outcomes in ENESTnd are evaluated after a minimum follow-up of 5 years. By 5 years, more than half of all patients in each nilotinib arm (300 mg twice daily, 54%; 400 mg twice daily, 52%) achieved a molecular response 4.5 (MR(4.5); BCR-ABL⩽0.0032% on the International Scale) compared with 31% of patients in the imatinib arm. A benefit of nilotinib was observed across all Sokal risk groups. Overall, safety results remained consistent with those from previous reports. Numerically more cardiovascular events (CVEs) occurred in patients receiving nilotinib vs imatinib, and elevations in blood cholesterol and glucose levels were also more frequent with nilotinib. In contrast to the high mortality rate associated with CML progression, few deaths in any arm were associated with CVEs, infections or pulmonary diseases. These long-term results support the positive benefit-risk profile of frontline nilotinib 300 mg twice daily in patients with CML-CP.