Epithelial ovarian cancer patients with bulky residual tumor have a poor response to therapy and limited survival. We investigated the addition of dose-intense paclitaxel to cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for patients with FIGO III/IV epithelial ovarian cancer. Paclitaxel dose was intensified from 135 to 250 mg/m2 and administered in combination with cisplatin at > or = 75 mg/m2 and cyclophosphamide at 750 mg/m2. Thirty-one of 36 patients (86%) and 25 (70%) had > or = 2 and > or = 3 cm residual disease after surgery, respectively. One-third had stage IV disease, and 80% had grade 3 tumors. The maximally tolerated doses (MTD) were paclitaxel at 250 mg/m2, cisplatin at 75 mg/m2, and cyclophosphamide at 750 mg/m2 on a 21-day cycle with G-CSF, 10 micrograms/kg/day. Administered dose intensity at the MTD was > or = 86%. Reversible grade 3 peripheral neuropathy occurred in 28% of patients and fever during neutropenia in 2/352 cycles (0.5%). The pathologic response rate is 36% with an additional 25% having minimal microscopic disease. Median progression-free and overall survivals for patients receiving paclitaxel at 250 mg/m2 at a median potential follow-up of 22 months have not been reached for the cohort nor for the > or = 3-cm subgroup. This regimen should be evaluated in a prospective, randomized clinical trial.