This prospective study was conducted with the Korean Cancer Study Group to evaluate the efficacy and safety of cetuximab combined with modified FOLFOX6 (mFOLFOX6) as first-line treatment in recurrent or metastatic gastric cancer and to identify potential predictive biomarkers. Patients received cetuximab 400 mg m(-2) at week 1 and 250 mg m(-2) weekly thereafter until disease progression. Oxaliplatin (100 mg m(-2)) and leucovorin (100 mg m(-2)) were administered as a 2-h infusion followed by a 46-h continuous infusion of 5-fluorouracil (2400 mg m(-2)) every 2 weeks for a maximum of 12 cycles. Biomarkers potentially associated with efficacy were analysed. Among 38 evaluable patients, confirmed response rate (RR) was 50.0% (95% CI 34.1-65.9). Median time-to-progression (TTP) was 5.5 months (95% CI 4.5-6.5) and overall survival (OS) 9.9 months. Eleven patients having tumour EGFR expression by immunohistochemistry with low serum EGF and TGF-alpha levels showed a 100% RR compared to 37.0% in the remaining 27 patients (P<0.001). Moreover, ligand level increased when disease progressed in seven out of eight patients with EGFR expression and low baseline ligand level. No patient exhibited EGFR amplification or K-ras mutations. Gastric cancer patients with EGFR expression and low ligand levels had better outcomes with cetuximab/mFOLFOX6 treatment.