A subgraph of an edge-coloured complete graph is called rainbow if all its edges have different colours. In 1980 Hahn conjectured that every properly edge-coloured complete graph Kn has a rainbow Hamiltonian path. Although this conjecture turned out to be false, it was widely believed that such a colouring always contains a rainbow cycle of length almost n. In this paper, improving on several earlier results, we confirm this by proving that every properly edge-coloured Kn has a rainbow cycle of length n − O(n3/4). One of the main ingredients of our proof, which is of independent interest, shows that a random subgraph of a properly edge-coloured Kn formed by the edges of a random set of colours has a similar edge distribution as a truly random graph with the same edge density. In particular, it has very good expansion properties.
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