Twenty-four previously untreated, ambulatory patients with advanced colorectal carcinoma were treated with either caracemide (11 patients) or homoharringtonine (13 patients). No objective responses were observed in any of the treatment cohorts. Caracemide was well tolerated with the exception of one death due to sepsis. On the homoharringtonine arm one patient died of pulmonary sepsis, one patient experienced grade 4 leukopenia requiring more than 4 weeks of recovery, and an additional patient developed grade 4 renal failure. These severe and unexpected complications caused early termination of accrual to the homoharringtonine arm of the study. These agents have no activity in the treatment of advanced colorectal carcinoma.