The objective of this trial was to define the antitumor activity and toxicity of etoposide for second-line treatment of patients with bulky ovarian carcinoma. Between February 1, 1986 and November 1, 1988 we recruited 82 patients. Out of them 77 (93.9%) were evaluable for toxicity and 71 (86.6%) for response. Patient characteristics are as follows: median age 57 years (range 15-75), median performance status: WHO 1, prior chemotherapy with more than 3 drugs 24 patients, with previous cisplatin 63 patients, with previous adriamycin 47 patients, with previous irradiation plus chemotherapy 17 patients. The following treatment schedule was applied: each patient started with 150 mg/m2 of etoposide administered i.v. on days 1-3. If this first cycle was well tolerated the dosage was escalated to 200 mg/m2 days 1-3. This higher dosage was then repeated at 4-week intervals. For evaluation of response the WHO criteria were used. One patient (1.4%) achieved complete remission and 5 (7.0%) partial remission. In 48 patients (67.6%) minor response or stabilisation of the disease were observed. Seventeen patients (24%) showed no response. The median duration of remission was 5.5 months (range 2-20). The median duration of stabilisation was 3 months (range 2-24). The median survival time was 10 months with a range of 2-30 months. The myelotoxic side-effects are as follows: WBC less than 2,000 was recorded in 6 patients and greater than 1,000 in 2 patients. Thrombocytopaenia with platelet count less than 50,000 occurred in 1 patient. 26 patients had anaemia WHO grades 2 and 3. Non-haematological toxicity consisted of nausea and vomiting (WHO grade 2:20 patients and grade 3:2 patients), alopecia (WHO grades 2-3:14 and 24 patients, respectively). Though the remission rate in this trial was low, the 10-month median survival with an acceptable quality of life can be taken as a fairly good salvage therapy result.