Gemcitabine (2'-deoxy-2'-difluorocytidine monohydrochloride) at a dose of 1250 mg/m(2) was given as a 30-min intravenous (i.v.) infusion on days 1 and 8 in a 3-weekly schedule to 32 patients with advanced soft-tissue sarcoma (STS) failing first-line chemotherapy. One patient was ineligible due to a delay between the previous chemotherapy and the start of treatment. Of the eligible patients, median age was 53 years (range 23-73 years). The predominant histological subtype was leiomyosarcoma in 12 patients (38%). The median number of cycles was three (range 1-8 cycles) with a median total dose of gemcitabine of 6.25 g/m(2) (range 1.25-19.97 g/m(2)). The relative dose intensity of gemcitabine was 96% (range 50-103%). Treatment was tolerated very well with non-complicated haematological toxicity as the most frequently observed side-effect. Only one partial tumour response was documented, giving a response rate of 3.23% (95% Confidence Interval (CI): 0.08-16.2%). The median overall survival was 268 days (95% CI: 129-377) and the median time to progression was 45 days (95% CI: 41-79). These results indicate that gemcitabine given at this dose and schedule is not active as second-line therapy in advanced STS.