Bone marrow-derived fibroblastoid colony-forming cells (CFU-F) and granulocyte/macrophage precursor cells (CFU-GM) were studied in patients with acute leukemia. The numbers of CFU-F and CFU-GM were significantly lower in patients with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) at diagnosis than in normal subjects, although patients with AML had a very wide range of CFU-F colony-forming efficiency. However, a suppressive effect of leukemic cells on normal CFU-F colony formation was not observed. CFU-F and CFU-GM in patients with acute leukemia recovered to normal levels when complete remission (CR) was achieved and decreased again at relapse. Serial studies showed that the increase in CFU-F preceded the recovery of CFU-GM. In AML, furthermore, patients who achieved CR had a higher number of CFU-F than patients without CR, suggesting that the CFU-F level at diagnosis may contribute to the prediction of the likelihood of remission induction in patients with AML.