This randomized study was designed to determine whether response to VAD chemotherapy could be prolonged by using rh alpha-2b-interferon (IFN) at a dose of 3 mU three times per week, either concurrently with VAD (VIC) or as maintenance after completion of VAD (VIF). Maintenance IFN was given for 9 months in order for the duration of IFN therapy to be similar in both groups. 72 patients were randomized between December 1988 and August 1993. The majority of patients had poor prognostic features. The objective response rate was similar in each arm, 78% in VIF and 77% in VIC. Of the 56 responders, 33 have relapsed, three died in remission, and 18 proceeded to high-dose therapy, withdrew for other reasons or were lost to follow-up and were censored from analysis at the relevant time point. Only two patients remain in remission (both in partial remission). Median PFS was 15 months for both VIF and VIC, compared with 16.5 months for a historic control group treated with VAD alone (n.s.). The estimated median survival in VIF was 43 months and in VIC 22 months, compared with 45 months in the historic controls (n.s.). These findings indicate that neither maintenance nor concurrent IFN prolongs response to VAD.