In a previous large randomized, open-label study, retrospective subset analysis revealed that the addition of the Bcl-2 antisense oligonucleotide oblimersen to dacarbazine (Dac) significantly improved overall survival, progression-free survival, and the response rate in chemotherapy-naive patients with advanced melanoma and normal baseline serum lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels. To confirm and expand on this observation, we conducted a prospective double-blind, placebo-controlled study to determine whether oblimersen augmented the efficacy of Dac in advanced melanoma patients with low-normal baseline LDH levels. A total of 314 chemotherapy-naive patients were randomly assigned to receive Dac (1000 mg/m(2)) preceded by a 5-day continuous intravenous infusion of either oblimersen sodium (7 mg/kg/day) or placebo every 21 days for less than eight cycles. Co-primary efficacy endpoints were overall survival and progression-free survival. Response and progression of the disease were assessed by independent blinded review of computed tomography scan images. No difference in overall nor progression-free survival was observed between the Dac-oblimersen and Dac-placebo groups. Although the overall (17.2 vs. 12.1%) and durable (10.8 vs. 7.6%) response rates numerically favored Dac-oblimersen over Dac-placebo, they did not differ significantly (P=0.19 and 0.32, respectively). The incidence of hematologic adverse events, particularly thrombocytopenia and neutropenia, was higher in the Dac-oblimersen group than in the Dac-placebo group. Withdrawals from the study because of treatment-related adverse events were low (i.e. <2.5%) in both groups. The addition of oblimersen to Dac did not significantly improve overall survival nor progression-free survival in patients with advanced melanoma and low-normal levels of LDH at baseline.