Eight-year event-free survival (EFS) was evaluated in 205 patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), to consider the efficacy of high-dose methylprednisolone (HDMP) given during remission induction chemotherapy between 1 and 29 days. The St Jude Total XI Study protocol was used after some minor modifications in this trial. Patients were randomized into two groups. Group A (n = 108) received conventional dose (60 mg/m(2)/day orally) prednisolone and group B (n = 97) received HDMP (Prednol-L, 900-600 mg/m(2) orally) during remission induction chemotherapy. Complete remission was obtained in 95% of the 205 patients who were followed-up for 11 years; median follow-up was 72 months (range 60-129) and 8-year EFS rate was 60% overall (53% in group A, 66% in group 13). The EFS rate of group B was significantly higher than of group A (P = 0.05). The 8-year EFS rate of groups A and B in the high-risk groups was 39% vs 63% (P = 0.002). When we compared 8-year EFS rate in groups A and B in the high-risk subgroup for both ages together less than or equal to2 or greater than or equal to10 years, it was 44% vs 74%, respectively. Among patients in the high-risk subgroup with a WBC count greater than or equal to50 x 10(9)/l, the 8-year EFS was 38% in group A vs 58% in group B. During the 11-year follow-up period, a total of 64 relapses occurred in 205 patients. In group A relapses were higher (39%) than in group B (23%) (P = 0.05). These results suggest that HDMP during remission-induction chemotherapy improves the EFS rate significantly for high-risk patients in terms of the chances of cure.