The efficacy and toxicity of a combination of fludarabine and cyclophosphamide (FC) was evaluated in patients with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). Between April 1997 and July 1998, 36 patients with CLL (median age 59 years) received a regimen that consisted of fludarabine 30 mg/m(2) in a 30-min IV infusion, d 1-3, and cyclophosphamide 250 mg/m(2) in a 30-min IV infusion on d 1-3. Cycles were repeated every 28 d. Twenty-one patients had received between one and three different treatment regimens prior to the study, while 15 patients had received no prior therapy. The median Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance score was 1. One patient was at Binet stage A, 18 were stage B and 17 patients were stage C. Objective responses, assessed according to the revised guidelines of the National Cancer Institute-sponsored Working Group, were recorded in 29 out of 32 assessable patients (90.6%). Twenty-four partial remissions and five complete remissions were observed. Two patients showed no change and one patient showed disease progression. At February 2000, three of the responders had relapsed. Severe neutropenia, anaemia and thrombocytopenia (Common Toxicity Criteria grade 3 and 4) were observed in 25, six and six patients (69.4%, 16.7% and 16.7%) respectively. Other side-effects were uncommon. No treatment-related deaths and no grade 3 or 4 infections occurred. We conclude that the combination of fludarabine and cyclophosphamide showed significant activity in patients with CLL. Myelosuppression was the major side-effect. These results warrant further study on the FC combination in randomized trials.