We report the updated results of an intensive treatment protocol for children (< 18 years) and adults (> or = 18 years) with advanced B-cell lymphomas. The protocol consists of two chemotherapy regimens: A, consisting of cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine and high-dose methotrexate (CODOX-M), and B, consisting of ifosfamide, etoposide, and high-dose cytarabine (IVAC). Both cycles included intrathecal chemotherapy (cytarabine or methotrexate). Patients received a total of four cycles in the following sequence: A, B, A, B. Sixty-six previously untreated patients, enrolled before October 1996, were included in the present analysis. Of these, 55 had Burkitt's or Burkitt's-like lymphoma and 11 had diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. There were 53 males ad 13 females; 40 were children and 26 were adults (age range, 3 to 57 years). To date, 61 patients have achieved a complete response to therapy. Two patients subsequently relapsed, but one of these is a long-term survivor after further therapy and a bone marrow transplant. The event-free survival rate is 85% at I year and beyond. The median potential follow-up period is 48 months (range, 12 to 96 months) for patients remaining in complete remission. Neutropenia occurred in 98% of cycles and infection in 46% of A cycles and 50% of B cycles, but the duration was shortened in B cycles by the administration of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor. Positive blood cultures were observed in 21% of A cycles and 28% of B cycles, and there have been three toxic deaths. These results are better than those achieved with an earlier version of CODOX-M, suggesting that the addition of the IVAC regimen is responsible for the improved results. The similarity of the outcome in children and adults, however, confirms our previous observation that, at least in adults younger than 60 years with Burkitt's or Burkitt's-like lymphomas, treatment with regimens similar to those used in children is warranted.