Pre-clinical data suggested a relationship between inactivation of hMLH1 and hMSH2 and resistance to drugs like cisplatin and carboplatin, but not oxaliplatin. We then hypothesised that NSCLC showing loss of expression of the mismatch repair system (MMR), could be refractory to cisplatin-based, but not to oxaliplatin-based chemotherapy. Immunohistochemical expression of hMLH1 and hMSH2 was analysed on tumour samples from 93 advanced NSCLC, receiving chemotherapy with either cisplatin or oxaliplatin in combination with gemcitabine. Patients showing loss of hMLH1 or hMSH2 expression in > or = 50% of tumour cells were deemed MMR-negative (Group A), whereas cases with a normal hMLH1 or hMSH2 expression in > 50% of the tumour cells were defined MMR-positive (Group B). No differences in the response and progression rate were found in the whole patients population and in the gemcitabine/cisplatin group for both hMLH1 and hMSH2. In the gemcitabine/oxaliplatin group response rate was 38% and 0% (p=0.04) for patients with or without loss of hMSH2 expression. Median survival according to MMR status in Groups A and B, respectively was: 17 months versus 9 months for hMLH1 (p=0.031) and 10 months versus 9 months for hMSH2 (p=0.8330). Both the difference in response rate and in median survival observed according to MMR status seem to confirm what has been suggested by preclinical studies.