Relapse remains the major cause of treatment failure in pediatric acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We analyzed the clinical characteristics, treatment response to relapse treatment and overall survival (OS) of 379 children with AML relapse treated according to three consecutive frontline protocols of the AML-Berlin/Frankfurt/Muenster study group (AML-BFM-87/-93/-98). Of 313 treated patients with data on remission status, 198 children (63%) achieved a second complete remission (CR2). There were no significant differences in remission rates and OS for the intensive reinduction treatment schedules used. The 5-year OS rate was 23% for the total group and 29% for patients treated with curative intent. OS rates increased with study periods from 18 to 34% (P log rank 0.012), whereas the proportion of patients receiving only palliative treatment decreased from 23 to 11% (P CMH 0.005). Late relapse, no allogeneic stem cell transplantation (SCT) in CR1, age 10 years and favorable cytogenetics were independent favorable prognostic factors for survival. Achievement of CR2 was the most important prognostic factor (OS 44 vs 3%; P log rank 0.0001). Overall, one-third of children with relapsed AML can be cured today. SCT in CR2 is recommended for most patients, although its impact on CR2 is discussed.