On the basis of a previous experience suggesting that daunorubicin dose in induction was an independent prognostic factor in adult ALL, we designed a chemotherapeutic regimen (ALLVR589) characterized by high doses of daunorubicin (270 mg/m2) in induction and by high-dose Ara-C in post-remission. The protocol was otherwise conventional: induction and post-remission therapy were followed by chemo-radio prophylaxis of the central nervous system (CNS) and periodical reinductions over a 3-year maintenance period. Sixty consecutive patients (male 42, female 18, median age 34 years, range 14-71; B-lineage, 35; T-lineage, 25; Ph' and bcr/abl positive, 7) recruited between 1989 and 1996, were evaluated for treatment outcome. Complete remissions were 56 (93%), one patient had refractory disease, early deaths were five (8%); 19/56 (34%) patients relapsed, five of whom were Ph'+. Median time to relapse was 11 months (range 3-47); 68% of relapses occurred within 12 months from CR. No CNS relapses were observed. After a median follow-up of 44 months (1-100), 33/60 (55%) patients remain event-free; 23/60 (38%) are off-therapy in continuous CR (median follow-up from diagnosis: 63 months; range 38-100). These results suggest that increasing DNM dosage in induction is one of the possible approaches to improve the outcome of adult ALL by decreasing the relapse occurrence.