This study set out to evaluate, in patients with metastatic colorectal carcinoma, the efficacy and toxicity of S-1, which contains tegafur, 5-chloro-2,4-dihydroxypyridine (CDHP) and potassium oxonate, based on a biochemical modulation of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) targeted at inhibition of dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD). Sixty-three patients with measurable metastatic colorectal carcinoma were enrolled into the study. None of the patients had received prior chemotherapy except for adjuvant setting. S-1 was administered orally twice daily at a standard dose of 80 mg m(-2) day(-1) for 28 days followed by a 14-day rest. This agent is continued until disease progression, unaccepted toxicity, or patient refusal. Twenty-two (35%) of the 62 eligible patients achieved PR with a 95% confidence interval of 25-48%. Five of the 10 patients with a history of adjuvant chemotherapy achieved partial remission. The median survival time was 12 months. Major adverse reactions included myelosuppressive and gastrointestinal toxicities, though their incidence of grade 3 or 4 being 13% in neutropenia and less than 10% in the others. None of the 53 patients treated as outpatients required hospitalization due to adverse reactions: These results suggest that S-1 achieves similar responses to those of infusional 5-FU plus leucovorin and shows the potential of another biochemical modulation with easily manageable toxicity.