The incidence of gastric cancer (GC) increases significantly after the fifth decade and palliative chemotherapy is the ultimate treatment in the majority of patients. We investigated safety and efficacy of a weekly regimen with cisplatin, fluorouracil and leucovorin as first-line chemotherapy for elderly patients with advanced GC. Chemotherapy-naive patients older than 65 years were considered eligible for study entry. Frail elderly patients were identified and excluded according to the following criteria: age >85 years, dependence in one or more activities of daily living (activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living scales), three or more comorbid conditions, one or more geriatric syndromes. Chemotherapy consisted of 1-day per week administration of intravenous cisplatin 35 mg m(-2), 6S-stereoisomer leucovorin 250 mg m(-2) and fluorouracil 500 mg m(-2) (PLF). Patients were re-evaluated after eight weekly cycles and six additional weekly administrations were planned for patients without disease progression. A 5-day subcutaneous filgrastim (5 mug Kg(-1) day(-1), days +1-+5) was used after the first treatment delay for neutropenia and maintained thereafter. In the whole group, the best intention-to-treat overall response rate was 43% (95% CI: 30-56%). The time to disease progression and the median survival time were 5.3 and 8.6 months, respectively. Fatigue was the commonest nonhaematologic toxicity (71% of the patients). Filgrastim was used in 30 patients who showed grade II (20 patients) or grade III (10 patients) neutropenia. Neither grade IV toxicity nor toxic deaths were observed. The weekly PLF regimen resulted safe and effective in elderly patients with advanced GC. This outpatient regimen is based on old and low-cost drugs and it may represent an alternative to new and more expensive combinations.