This study was designed to test whether previously untreated patients with head and neck cancer could effectively manage home continuous infusion chemotherapy, and to compare their acceptance and adjustment to home versus inpatient treatment. Twenty-two patients received 3-4 cycles of induction chemotherapy and a 5-day continuous intravenous infusion (CVI). Patients were randomized to receive the CVI portion of cycle 1 either in the hospital via a standard chemotherapy delivery device or at home via the Travenol Infusor, a portable and disposable drug delivery system. For their second cycle of chemotherapy, patients crossed over to the alternate drug delivery method. Patients who did not want to receive their treatment at home received their chemotherapy as inpatients via the Infusor. Therefore, all patients received treatment with both drug delivery methods. Nineteen patients were evaluable for this study. Eleven patients received at least one cycle of home CVI chemotherapy, and adjusted well to this method of drug delivery. Levels of psychological distress decreased for this group of patients when receiving outpatient chemotherapy compared to their inpatient cycles. The eight patients who received all chemotherapy cycles as inpatients (refused home treatment) were found to be less educated and reported greater physical impairment prior to study entry than future home CVI acceptors. Levels of psychological distress in this group increased with each inpatient chemotherapy cycle. We conclude that home CVI chemotherapy may be an alternative to inpatient treatment for patients who have had at least one cycle of inpatient chemotherapy. The best candidates for home treatment are patients with unimpaired daily functioning and a minimum high school education.