Uterine papillary serous carcinoma (UPSC) is an aggressive malignancy that accounts for a disproportionate number of intraabdominal failures among endometrial carcinoma patients. The histologic appearance and tendency toward intraabdominal spread resemble those of papillary serous adenocarcinoma of the ovary. Because approximately 70% of untreated ovarian carcinoma patients respond to platinum-based chemotherapy, it has been suggested that UPSC patients might respond to similar treatment regimens. Twenty patients with UPSC were treated with cisplatin, doxorubicin (Adriamycin), cyclophosphamide (PAC) chemotherapy between January 1982 and December 1989. They included 9 patients with advanced primary disease, 5 with recurrence, and 6 who received PAC as adjuvant therapy. Patients received a mean of five cycles of PAC. Only 2 of 11 patients with measurable disease greater than 2 cm achieved complete clinical responses of 12 and 31 months duration; there were no partial responses. Actuarial 5-year survival for all patients was 23%. The mean progression-free interval was 9 months. Patients with clinical stages I or II disease had a higher survival rate than those with stage III or IV disease (P = 0.003). Survival did not correlate with depth of myometrial invasion (P = 0.81) or size of residual tumor following initial surgery (P = 0.16). Estrogen or progesterone receptors were detected in 10 of 11 tumors tested. Seven of 9 patients tested had elevated serum levels of CA-125 (greater than 35 U/ml). Correlation between CA-125 value and clinical course was demonstrated in 3 of 5 patients who had serial measurements. Of all patients, 3 are currently alive; 1 has documented disease. Moderate to severe toxicity was seen in 14 patients (70%). There was one possible treatment-related death from cardiomyopathy. UPSC, despite its histologic and clinical similarities to ovarian carcinoma, was relatively resistant to PAC chemotherapy in this mixed group of patients.