In 105 consecutive patients with de novo acute myeloid leukemia (French-American-British M3 excluded), we compared prospectively the risk of bleeding complications, the number of platelet and red blood cell transfusions administered, and the costs of transfusions using two different prophylactic platelet transfusion protocols. Two hundred sixteen cycles of induction or consolidation chemotherapy and 3,843 days of thrombocytopenia less than 25 x 10(9)/L were evaluated. At the start of the study, each of the 17 participating centers decided whether they would use a 10 x 10(9)/L prophylactic platelet transfusion trigger (group A/8 centers) or a 20 x 10(9)/L trigger (group B/9 centers). Bleeding complications (World Health Organization grade 2-4) during treatment cycles were comparable in the two groups: 20 of 110 (18%) in group A and 18 of 106 (17%) in group B (P = .8). Serious bleeding events (grade 3-4) were generally not related to the patient's platelet count but were the consequence of local lesions and plasma coagulation factor deficiencies due to sepsis. Eighty-six percent of the serious bleeding episodes occurred during induction chemotherapy. No patient died of a bleeding complication. There were no significant differences in the number of red blood cell transfusions administered between the two groups, but there were significant differences in the number of platelet transfusions administered per treatment cycle: pooled random donor platelet concentrates averaged 15.4 versus 25.4 (P < .01) and apheresis platelets averaged 3.0 versus 4.8 (P < .05) for group A versus group B, respectively. This resulted in the cost of platelet therapy being one third lower in group A compared with group B without any associated increase in bleeding risk.