Much interest has focused on the role of glutamate-mediated excitotoxicity in the etiopathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We therefore conducted a phase I study of high-dose dextromethorphan (DM) in ALS. DM is a selective, noncompetitive antagonist of the N-methyl-D-aspartate subtype of the glutamate receptor. Thirteen patients were given DM in an escalating dose fashion, to a target of 10 mg/kg/day or the maximum tolerable dose, and then maintained on this dose for up to 6 months. Total daily doses ranged from 4.8 to 10 mg/kg (median, 7 mg/kg). Side effects were dose limiting in most patients. The most common side effects were light-headedness, slurred speech, and fatigue. Detailed pharmacokinetic and neuropsychology studies were performed. This study demonstrates the feasibility of long-term administration of high-dose DM in ALS, as well as in other conditions associated with glutamate excitotoxicity.