Between 1972 and 1981, the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group completed two major studies of advanced Hodgkin's disease. The first trial EST 2472, demonstrated that the five-drug combination of carmustine (BCNU), cyclophosphamide, vinblastine, procarbazine, and prednisone (BCVPP) is an effective alternative to mechlorethamine, vincristine, prednisone, and procarbazine (MOPP) chemotherapy. Although the complete remission (CR) rate for BCVPP (77%) was similar to that for MOPP (73%) in this randomized trial, the choice of induction chemotherapy significantly influenced CR duration. Patients achieving CR with BCVPP had a significantly greater disease-free survival than those who achieved CR with MOPP (65% vs 50%, respectively, at 5 years, P = 0.02). Overall survival is not different at this time between patients who received BCVPP and those who received MOPP. BCVPP produced significantly less gastrointestinal toxicity and neurotoxicity than MOPP. There was no influence on CR duration or survival with maintenance chemotherapy or BCG immunotherapy when compared to no further treatment. In the second trial, EST 1476, there was only a 58% CR rate with six cycles of low-dose bleomycin-MOPP induction chemotherapy. Complete responders and continuing partial responders were then randomized to receive either non-cross-resistant chemotherapy with doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and DTIC (dacarbazine) (ABVD) or low-dose radiotherapy to all sites of pretreatment involvement except bone marrow. Fifty percent of the partial responses were converted to CR with either ABVD or radiotherapy consolidation. The overall CR rate at the end of consolidation was 68%. At the present time, there is no significant difference in disease-free or overall survival between ABVD and radiotherapy.