Using strict FAB criteria, 39 cases of monocytic leukemia were identified in 463 consecutive cases of AML. Patients had a median age of 49 with no sex predominance. Extramedullary disease and hyperleukocytosis were common (54% and 36% of patients respectively). Cytogenetic analysis was successful in 38 of 39 patients; 71% had a cytogenetic abnormality and 42% of these involved chromosome 11; 14 of 16 chromosome 11 abnormalities involved the region of 11q23. Non-chromosome 11 abnormalities tended to occur in older patients and to be associated with a lower platelet count; patients with the translocation 9;11 tended to have a lower white count and a higher incidence of therapy-related leukemia. 35 patients were treated with induction therapy including intensive chemotherapy (n = 33) and allogeneic BMT at presentation (n = 2). Patients who entered remission underwent consolidation chemotherapy, autologous BMT, or allogeneic BMT depending on policies at the time of diagnosis. Of 6 patients who underwent further intensive chemotherapy there is 1 long-term disease-free survivor. 3 of 8 patients undergoing autologous BMT and 2 of 3 patients undergoing allogeneic BMT are long-term disease-free survivors. We conclude that this specific subtype of AML, relatively rare when strict criteria are applied, is associated with unique biologic and clinical features and that the high relapse rate associated with conventional therapy makes new treatment approaches involving stem cell transplantation or immunomodulation necessary.