Large interindividual variance is observed in both response and toxicity associated with chemotherapy. Our goal is to identify factors that contribute to chemotherapy-induced toxicity. To this end, we used EBV-transformed B-lymphoblastoid HapMap cell lines derived from 30 Yoruban trios (African descent) and 30 Centre d' Etude du Polymorphisme Humain (CEPH) trios (European descent) to evaluate population- and gender-specific differences in cytotoxicity of carboplatin, cisplatin, daunorubicin, and etoposide using a high-throughput, short-term cytotoxicity assay. The IC(50) was compared for population- and gender-specific differences for the four drugs. We observed large interindividual variance in IC(50) values for carboplatin, cisplatin, daunorubicin, and etoposide for both Yoruban and CEPH populations (range from 8- to 433-fold). Statistically significant differences in carboplatin and daunorubicin IC(50) were shown when comparing Yoruban cell lines (n = 89) to CEPH cell lines (n = 87; P = 0.002 and P = 0.029, respectively). This population difference in treatment induced cytotoxicity was not seen for either cisplatin or etoposide. In the Yoruban population, cell lines derived from females were less sensitive to platinating agents than males [median carboplatin IC(50), 29.1 versus 24.6 micromol/L (P = 0.012); median cisplatin IC(50), 7.0 versus 6.0 micromol/L (P = 0.020) in female and male, respectively]. This difference was not observed in the CEPH population. These results show that population and gender may affect risk for toxicities associated with certain chemotherapeutic agents.