A major problem associated with the chemosensitivity testing of fresh human tumour cells using the MTT assay is the contamination of nonmalignant cells in the tumour tissues. Highly purified fresh human gastric cancer cells could be obtained from 43 solid tumours and eight malignant ascites for the MTT assay. The success rate of the MTT assay was 87.9% (51 of the 58 cases), and the purity of tumour cells was greater than 90% after separation on Ficoll-Hypaque and Percoll discontinuous gradients in primary, or metastatic lesions, and also ascites. Cisplatin, mitomycin, and doxorubicin were more potent drugs than etoposide and 5-FU against gastric cancer cells. The chemosensitivity in differentiated cancer was equivalent to that in non-differentiated cancer. Twenty of the 51 patients with gastric cancer had evaluable lesions, and they received chemotherapy according to the results of the MTT assay using highly purified tumour cells. A clinical response was obtained in 12 of these 20 patients (response rate: 60.0%; five with complete response, seven with partial response).