High-dose intravenous gammaglobulin (IVIgG) was given to 12 children and adults with chronic idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) to avoid splenectomy or because they either failed to respond to or required maintenance with high doses of steroids and/or immunosuppressives. The average platelet count increase to initial therapy was 239,500/μl (range 23,000-790,000). A concomitant IgG Fc receptor blockade, measured by IgG-sensitized 51Cr-labeled autologous erythrocytes, was seen in 11 of 11 patients tested, both splenectomized and not splenectomized, lasting 3-4 wk. Six or more months after treatment, 2 children are in remission, 2 children and 2 adults are stable requiring no therapy with platelet counts of approximately 50,000 and 30,000, respectively, 3 children require maintenance IVIgG therapy at 2-10-wk intervals, and 1 child and 2 adults have become refractory to further IVIgG. Splenectomy was not performed in 4 children. Two adults were able to discontinue daily prednisone. The 3 patients who became unresponsive to Swiss Red Cross gamma-globulin (IgSRK) therapy did so in conjunction with a markedly elevated platelet-associated IgG and IgM. Serum IgM increased an average of 103 mg/dl after the IVIgG infusions. No significant side effects were seen.