Second-line chemotherapy in patients with gemcitabine-refractory advanced pancreatic cancer has shown disappointing survival outcomes due to rapid disease progression and performance deterioration. The aim of this phase II trial was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of adoptive immunotherapy using ex vivo-expanded, cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cells in gemcitabine-refractory advanced pancreatic cancer. Patients with advanced pancreatic cancer who showed disease progression during gemcitabine-based chemotherapy were enrolled in this study. For generation of CIK cells, peripheral blood samples were collected from each patient and cultured with anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody and IL-2. Patients received CIK cells intravenously 10 times, every week for 5 weeks and then every other week for 10 weeks. Twenty patients were enrolled between November 2009 and September 2010. The disease control rate was 25 % (4/16 patients). The median progression-free survival (PFS) was 11.0 weeks (95 % CI 8.8-13.2), and the median overall survival (OS) was 26.6 weeks (95 % CI 8.6-44.6). Grade 3 toxicities included general weakness in two patients and thrombocytopenia in one patient. Grade 4 hematologic or non-hematologic toxicity was not observed. Patients showed improvement in pancreatic pain, gastrointestinal distress, jaundice, body image alterations, altered bowel habits, health satisfaction, and sexuality when assessing quality of life (QoL). Adoptive immunotherapy using CIK cells showed comparable PFS and OS to survival data of previous trials that assessed conventional chemotherapies while maintaining tolerability and showing encouraging results in terms of patient QoL in gemcitabine-refractory advanced pancreatic cancer (clinicalTrials.gov number NCT00965718).