Of 405 patients with stage IV transitional cell carcinoma from an international multicenter phase III trial, 70 were randomized in Germany to receive either gemcitabine/cisplatin or standard MVAC systemic chemotherapy for locally advanced or metastatic urothelial cancer. Overall survival as the primary endpoint of the study was similar in both arms (median survival GC 15.4 months vs MVAC 16.1 months), as were tumor-specific survival and time to progressive disease. In the intent-to-treat analysis, the 5-year overall survival rate was 10% for patients randomized to GC and 18% randomized to MVAC. Tumor overall response rates (GC 54%, MVAC 53%) were similar. The toxic death rate was 0% in the GC arm and 3% (one patient) in the MVAC arm. Significantly more GC than MVAC patients experienced grade 3/4 anemia (GC 52%, MVAC 20%) with significantly more red blood cell transfusions in the GC arm.Significantly more GC than MVAC patients had grade 3/4 thrombocytopenia (GC 54%, MVAC 17%) without grade 3/4 hemorrhage or hematuria in either arm. More MVAC patients experienced grade 3/4 neutropenia (GC 56%, MVAC 61%, p=1.000), neutropenic or leukopenic fever (GC 0%, MVAC 10%, p=0.237), mucositis (GC 0%, MVAC 7%, p=0.495), and alopecia (GC 6%, MVAC 36%, p=0.004). GC represents a reasonable alternative for the palliative treatment of patients with locally advanced and metastatic transitional cell carcinoma. Sustained long-term survival was only found for patients with locally advanced cancer, lymphatic metastases, or solitary distant metastasis but not for visceral metastatic disease.