The development of new treatments for older patients with acute myeloid leukemia is an active area, but has met with limited success. Vosaroxin, a quinolone-derived intercalating agent has several properties that could prove beneficial. Initial clinical studies showed it to be well-tolerated in older patients with relapsed/refractory disease. In vitro data suggested synergy with cytarabine (Ara-C). To evaluate vosaroxin, we performed 2 randomized comparisons within the "Pick a Winner" program. A total of 104 patients were randomized to vosaroxin vs low-dose Ara-C (LDAC) and 104 to vosaroxin + LDAC vs LDAC. When comparing vosaroxin with LDAC, neither response rate (complete recovery [CR]/complete recovery with incomplete count recovery [CRi], 26% vs 30%; odds ratio [OR], 1.16 (0.49-2.72); P = .7) nor 12-month survival (12% vs 31%; hazard ratio [HR], 1.94 [1.26-3.00]; P = .003) showed benefit for vosaroxin. Likewise, in the vosaroxin + LDAC vs LDAC comparison, neither response rate (CR/CRi, 38% vs 34%; OR, 0.83 [0.37-1.84]; P = .6) nor survival (33% vs 37%; HR, 1.30 [0.81-2.07]; P = .3) was improved. A major reason for this lack of benefit was excess early mortality in the vosaroxin + LDAC arm, most obviously in the second month following randomization. At its first interim analysis, the Data Monitoring and Ethics Committee recommended closure of the vosaroxin-containing trial arms because a clinically relevant benefit was unlikely.