Docetaxel has been reported to show promising anti-tumour activity in pancreatic ductal cancer (PC). This study was conducted to evaluate the activity and toxicity of moderate-dose (60 mg m(-2)) docetaxel in Japanese chemo-naive patients with measurable metastatic PC. The patients had a performance status of 0-2. They received docetaxel intravenously over a 1- to 2-h period without any premedication for hypersensitivity reactions. This treatment was repeated every 3-4 weeks with dose adjustments based on the toxic effects observed. Twenty-one patients were eligible and treated with docetaxel. The median number of courses was 2 (range, 1-4). None of the patients achieved an objective response; seven showed no change and 13 showed progressive disease. In one patient, the response was not assessable because of early death. The median survival time for all patients was 118 days. The main grade 3-4 toxicities by patient were leucocytopenia (67%) and neutropenia (86%). Other grade 3-4 toxicities included anaemia (10%), thrombocytopenia (5%), nausea/vomiting (29%), anorexia (29%), GOT/GPT increase (10%), alkaline phosphatase increase (14%), malaise/fatigue (33%) and alopecia (24%). In conclusion, docetaxel, administered on this schedule, did not show significant anti-tumour activity in patients with metastatic PC.