Aims of this study were to evaluate the activity and toxicity of gemcitabine and cisplatin combination in malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). Patients with histologically proven MPM, < 75 years of age, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status (PS) < or = 2, and measurable MPM were eligible. Patients received gemcitabine 1250 mg/m intravenously on days 1 and 8 and cisplatin 75 mg/m on day 2, every 21 days, for a maximum of 6 cycles. From May 1999 to May 2001, 35 chemonaive patients (median age, 61 years) were enrolled. A total of 177 cycles were administered (median 5 cycles; range 1 to 6). One patient was not evaluable for response and toxicity. Nine (26%) patients had partial responses, 11 (32%) patients had progressive disease, and 14 (41%) stable disease. Median survival for all patients was 13 months. Median progression-free survival was 8 months. Grade 3 (World Health Organization) nausea and vomiting occurred in 35% of patients. Grade 3/4 anemia, grade 3/4 thrombocythemia, and grade 3/4 neutropenia were assessed in 24%, 52%, and 61% of patients, respectively. All other side effects were mild. In conclusion, gemcitabine-cisplatin combination seems to be moderately active in MPM. Furthermore, at this dose and schedule, the toxicity profile could be acceptable.