A prospective, randomized study was performed to evaluate the use of total parenteral nutrition (TPN) in a group of young patients receiving aggressive chemotherapy for metastatic or locally recurrent sarcomas. Fourteen patients were randomly selected to receive TPN and 18 to receive conventional oral nutritional support (CN). During the study period (from first dose of chemotherapy to recovery from myelosuppression), the TPN patients received between 1020 and 2100 calories/m2/day (median 1650) and between 5.3 and 12.4 gmN/m2/day (median 8.9), while the CN patients received between 380 and 880 calories/m2/day (median 685) and between 0.0 and 3.7 gmN/m2/day (median 1.5). The mean daily nitrogen balance during the study period for the TPN group (-3.0 to + 1.3 gmN/m2/day, median -0.7) was significantly higher (p = 0.005) than that of the CN group (-6.2 to -0.7 gmN/m2/day, median -2.6). Serum protein levels (albumin, total protein, and transferrin) did not differ between the two treatment groups. The proportion of patients responding to therapy and the long-term survival rates were similar in the treatment groups. Thus despite established improvement in nitrogen balance, no survival or therapeutic advantage was demonstrated for the adjuvant parenteral nutrition group. Further studies of the role of parenteral nutrition as an adjuvant to cancer chemotherapy are needed to determine which populations of patients will benefit from its use.