Increasing dose intensity (DI) of chemotherapy for patients with aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) may improve outcomes at the cost of increased toxicity. This issue was addressed in a randomized trial aiming to double the DI of myelosuppressive drugs. Between 1994 and 1999, 250 patients with previously untreated aggressive NHL were randomized to treatment with six cycles of 3-weekly standard (s) or intensive (i) chemotherapy: s-CEOP-cyclophosphamide 750, epirubicin 75, vincristine 1.4 mg/m 2 all on day 1, and prednisolone 100 mg days 1-5; i-CEOP-cyclophosphamide 1,500, epirubicin 150, vincristine 1.4 mg/m 2 all on day 1, and prednisolone 100 mg days 1-5. Primary endpoint was 5-year overall survival (OS). Relative to s-CEOP patients, i-CEOP patients achieved a 78% increase in the DI of cyclophosphamide and epirubicin. Despite this, there was no significant difference in any outcome: 5-year OS (56.7% i-CEOP; 55.1% s-CEOP; P=0.80), 5-year progression free survival (PFS; 41% i-CEOP; 43% s-CEOP; P=0.73), 5-year time to progression (TTP; 44% i-CEOP; 47% s-CEOP; P=0.72), or complete remission (CR)+unconfirmed CR (CRu) rates (53% i-CEOP; 59% s-CEOP; P=0.64). Long-term follow up at 10 years also showed no significant differences in OS, PFS, or TTP. The i-CEOP arm had higher rates of febrile neutropenia (70 vs. 26%), hospitalisations, blood product utilisation, haematological and gastrointestinal toxicities, and lower quality of life scores during treatment, although without significant differences 6-month later. In the treatment of aggressive NHL in the prerituximab era, increasing DI did not result in improved outcomes, while at the same time lead to increased toxicity.