Carboplatin is a 'second-generation' platinum compound advocated for use in the treatment of patients with ovarian cancer and it has also shown promise in small cell lung cancer, squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck, and seminomas. Overall, it would appear to have a similar qualitative spectrum of activity to cisplatin. There have been few comparative trials with carboplatin, either alone or in combination with other chemotherapeutic agents, but the limited data suggest comparable efficacy with cisplatin in ovarian cancer. Importantly, the toxicity profile of carboplatin is markedly different from that of cisplatin, with nephrotoxicity, neurotoxicity and ototoxicity occurring only infrequently with carboplatin. As with cisplatin, nausea and vomiting occur in many patients after carboplatin administration, but symptoms are usually delayed for several hours and are mild to moderate in severity - dose-limiting nausea and vomiting are infrequent with carboplatin. The dose-limiting toxicity of carboplatin is myelosuppression, with severe thrombocytopenia and less often leucopenia, which may be more severe in older patients or in those with renal impairment or those who have had previous chemotherapy. Thus, preliminary data suggest that carboplatin is a therapeutically equivalent alternative to cisplatin, but with a differing toxicity profile that should offer advantages over cisplatin in many patients.