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Pixantrone is an aza-anthracenedione with enhanced, preclinical antitumor activity and reduced cardiotoxicity compared with doxorubicin.We compared the efficacy and toxic effect of CPOP-R (substituting pixantrone for doxorubicin) against CHOP-R in untreated, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) patients. The primary objective was to demonstrate non-inferiority of CPOP-R by complete response/complete response unconfirmed (CR/CRu) rate.The CR/CRu rate for CPOP-R was 75% versus 84% for CHOP-R. Three-year overall survival was lower for CPOP-R (69% versus 85%) (P = 0.029). Median progression-free survival (PFS) was not reached for CPOP-R and was 40 months for CHOP-R [HR 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.02 (0.60, 1.76), P = 0.934]. Fewer CPOP-R patients developed congestive heart failure (CHF) (0% versus 6%, P = 0.120), ≥20% declines in ejection fraction (2% versus 17%, P = 0.004), or elevations in troponin-T (P = 0.003).CPOP-R is an active regimen with modestly lower response rates than CHOP-R but similar PFS and event-free survival. This study demonstrates a substantially lower cardiotoxicity of pixantrone compared with doxorubicin when used as first-line therapy in DLBCL.