In honour of Professor Rossi's 80th birthday we review the development of our understanding of the immune and auto-immune nature of the pathogenesis of immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). The immune aspects have been documented by postviral alterations of the cellular and humoral immune system, by new methods of specific auto-antibody detection against platelet glycoproteins and by the therapeutic effect of administering immunoglobulin concentrate from healthy blood donors. The various possible mechanisms of action of immunoglobulin treatment have led to use of this treatment as an alternative for other immune-related disorders. The treatment of severe chronic ITP in children, however, remains unsatisfactory. With a new international clinical and laboratory study of children and adolescents with early chronic ITP we are continuing the investigation of the pathogenesis and treatment of ITP.