Doses of cytotoxic drugs are routinely adjusted according to body surface area. We have evaluated this practice in 32 women with advanced breast cancer treated with single-agent epirubicin 12.5-120 mg m(-2). Epirubicin and its metabolites were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Unadjusted plasma clearance was calculated from dose in mg, and adjusted clearance from dose in mg m(-2). Unadjusted clearance did not correlate with surface area, height, weight, per cent ideal body weight or body mass index. There was no difference in the coefficient of variation (CV) of adjusted and unadjusted clearance (39.4% and 37.7% respectively). The AUC that would have resulted from giving an unadjusted dose was calculated. This predicted AUC was accurate, unbiased and had the same CV as the actual AUC. Similarly, in 11 patients an analysis of actual and predicted neutropenia confirmed that unadjusted dosing would have had no significant effect on the pattern of myelosuppression. Normalization of epirubicin dosage according to surface area appears not to reduce either pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic variability.