Interstitial photodynamic therapy has a number of potential advantages over superficial treatment. We have treated 50 subcutaneous and cutaneous tumours interstitially, in nine patients. An additional 22 tumours in the same patients, were treated by superficial PDT. Patients received 1.5-2.0 mg kg-1 of polyhaematoporphyrin and 72 h later underwent treatment using a copper vapour dye laser producing red light at 630 nm. All interstitial treatments were delivered using cylindrical diffusing fibres and a wide range of light doses (5-1500 J cm-3). The complete response rate for all tumours treated interstitially was 52%, rising to 81% in those patients who received 2.0 mg kg-1 PHP and light doses in excess of 500 J cm-3. The overall incidence of skin necrosis was 32% and was 79% in those treated with light doses of greater than 500 J cm-3. The incidence of skin necrosis with interstitial PDT is lower than that seen with superficial photodynamic therapy but higher volumetric light doses are required to produce tumour complete responses. All treatments were well tolerated and volumes of tumour up to 60 cm3 were successfully treated. The penetration depth of 630 nm light in human breast cancer tissue was determined as 4 mm. Little true tumour tissue selectivity was detected by analysis of porphyrin levels in biopsy material.