A dosage formula has been derived from a retrospective analysis of carboplatin pharmacokinetics in 18 patients with pretreatment glomerular filtration rates (GFR) in the range of 33 to 136 mL/min. Carboplatin plasma clearance was linearly related to GFR (r = 0.85, P less than .00001) and rearrangements of the equation describing the correlation gave the dosage formula dose (mg) = target area under the free carboplatin plasma concentration versus time curve (AUC) x (1.2 x GFR + 20). In a prospective clinical and pharmacokinetic study the formula was used to determine the dose required to treat 31 patients (GFR range, 33 to 135 mL/min) with 40 courses of carboplatin. The target AUC was escalated from 3 to 8 mg carboplatin/mL/min. Over this AUC range the formula accurately predicted the observed AUC (observed/predicted ratio 1.24 +/- 0.11, r = 0.886) and using these additional data, the formula was refined. Dose (mg) = target AUC x (GFR + 25) is now the recommended formula. AUC values of 4 to 6 and 6 to 8 mg/mL. min gave rise to manageable hematological toxicity in previously treated and untreated patients, respectively, and hence target AUC values of 5 and 7 mg/mL min are recommended for single-agent carboplatin in these patient groups. Pharmacokinetic modeling demonstrated that the formula was reasonably accurate regardless of whether a one- or two-compartment model most accurately described carboplatin pharmacokinetics, assuming that body size did not influence nonrenal clearance. The validity of this assumption was demonstrated in 13 patients where no correlation between surface area and nonrenal clearance was found (r = .31, P = .30). Therefore, the formula provides a simple and consistent method of determining carboplatin dose in adults. Since the measure of carboplatin exposure in the formula is AUC, and not toxicity, it will not be influenced by previous or concurrent myelosuppressive therapy or supportive measures. The formula is therefore applicable to combination and high-dose studies as well as conventional single-agent therapy, although the target AUC for carboplatin will need to be redefined for combination chemotherapy.