A total of 83 patients with nonorgan-confined bladder cancer with or without lymph node metastases (tumor stages pT3b, pT4a and/or pN1, pN2) was evaluated in November 1993 for relapse-free and overall survival. All patients underwent radical cystectomy between 1987 and 1991, 38 underwent adjuvant polychemotherapy with methotrexate, vinblastine and cisplatin plus doxorubicin (M-VAC) or epirubicin (M-VEC). Of the 83 patients 49 had entered a prospective randomized trial comparing adjuvant to no adjuvant treatment. The protocol was activated in May 1987. Patient recruitment was concluded in December 1990 because an interim analysis of the 49 randomized patients revealed a significant prognostic advantage in favor of the 26 patients randomized to the chemotherapy group compared to 23 in the control group (p = 0.0015, log-rank test for relapse-free survival curves). Preliminary data were published in 1992. Of the 26 patients randomized for adjuvant chemotherapy 18 were treated with M-VAC or M-VEC, 7 refused chemotherapy before or during cycle 1 and 1 received chemotherapy without cisplatin because of impaired renal function. The update of patient followup obtained in November 1993 continues to demonstrate a significant improvement in progression-free survival in favor of patients randomized for adjuvant chemotherapy (p = 0.0005). Followup of patients living free of disease ranged from 38 to 78 months. In a second analysis of actual treatment, the total collective of 83 patients treated from 1987 to 1991 was reviewed: 38 who had actually undergone adjuvant M-VAC/M-VEC (18 during the prospective trial and 20 in 1991 as the routinely recommended therapy) were compared with 45 without adjuvant M-VAC/M-VEC (7 refused to participate in the adjuvant trial, 8 randomized for but did not undergo adjuvant M-VAC/M-VEC, 23 belonged to the control group of the trial, and 7 underwent cystectomy in 1991 and remained without adjuvant treatment). This analysis again revealed a significant prognostic advantage in favor of the patients treated with adjuvant M-VAC/M-VEC. We conclude that adjuvant chemotherapy with M-VAC/M-VEC leads to a significant prolongation of relapse-free survival and to an improvement of the definitive cure rates after radical cystectomy for locally advanced transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder.