<PAGE>
 
 
                      SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
                            WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

                            ----------------------

                                   FORM 8-K

                                CURRENT REPORT
                    PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE
                        SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

                               October 16, 1996
               Date of Report (Date of earliest event reported)

                            CELL THERAPEUTICS, INC.
            (Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

         WASHINGTON                    0-28386                91-1533912
(State or Other Jurisdiction   (Commission File Number)     (IRS Employer 
     of Incorporation)                                    Identification No.)

                           201 Elliott Avenue, West
                           Seattle, Washington 98119
         (Address of principal executive offices, including zip code)

                                (206) 282-7100
             (Registrant's telephone number, including area code)

                                Not applicable
         (Former name or former address, if changed since last report)


<PAGE>
 
                                       2


ITEM 5.   OTHER EVENTS.

NOTICE OF UNREGISTERED OFFERING

          On October 16, 1996 Cell Therapeutics, Inc. (the "Company") issued a
press release under Securities and Exchange Commission Rule 135c giving notice
of a second and final closing of $2,000,000 in an unregistered private offering
of its Series A Convertible Preferred Stock, for an aggregate purchase price of
$17,000,000. The text of that press release is included with this report as
Exhibit 99.1.



ITEM 7.   FINANCIAL STATEMENTS, PRO FORMA FINANCIAL INFORMATION AND EXHIBITS.

          (c)  Exhibits

<TABLE> 
<CAPTION> 

    Exhibit No.                             Description
    -----------                             -----------
    <C>                       <S>
        99.1                  Press release dated October 16, 1996 issued under
                              Securities and Exchange Commission Rule 135c
                              giving notice of the closing of an unregistered
                              offering of Series A Convertible Preferred Stock.

</TABLE>
 

<PAGE>
 
                                       3


                                  SIGNATURES

     Pursuant to the requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the 
Registrant has duly caused this report to be signed on its behalf by the 
undersigned hereunto duly authorized.

                                       CELL THERAPEUTICS, INC.


Dated: October 21, 1996                By /s/ JAMES A. BIANCO, M.D.
                                          -------------------------------------
                                          James A. Bianco, M.D.
                                          President and Chief Executive Officer


<PAGE>
 

                                 EXHIBIT INDEX

<TABLE> 
<CAPTION> 

Exhibit No.                      Description                           Page No.
- -----------                      -----------                           --------
<C>                  <S>                                               <C>

   99.1              Press release dated October 16, 1996 issued
                     under Securities and Exchange Commission Rule
                     135c giving notice of the closing of an 
                     unregistered offering of Series A Convertible
                     Preferred Stock.
</TABLE>
 





<PAGE>

                              [LETTERHEAD OF CTI]
 
                                                                    EXHIBIT 99.1



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                     Contact: Lee M. Parker, Vice President
                                                         Cell Therapeutics, Inc.
                                                                    206/282-7100
                                                          lparker@ctiseattle.com



  CELL THERAPEUTICS RAISES $2 MILLION IN SECOND TRANCHE OF PRIVATE PLACEMENT

SEATTLE--October 16, 1996--Cell Therapeutics (cti) today announced the closing 
of a second and final tranche of $2 million in its company-managed private 
placement of $17 million in Series A Convertible Preferred Stock. Placed with 
existing institutional and accredited individual investors, these securities 
have not been registered under the Securities Act of 1933 and may not be offered
or sold in the United States without registration or applicable exemption from 
registration requirements.

Cell Therapeutics, Inc. is a Seattle-based biopharmaceutical company focusing on
the development of a new class of drugs that seeks to selectively regulate the 
metabolism of phospholipids in intracellular signaling pathways relevant to 
cancer and immune and inflammatory diseases.




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