From April 1989 to August 1990, 17 patients with Stage 3 or 4 epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) were treated with intravenous carboplatin (160-400 mg/m2) for refractory or recurrent disease after first-line treatment with cisplatin-based combination chemotherapy. Of fifteen patients evaluable for activity, two complete responses and two partial responses were seen, for a response rate of 27%. The duration of response was 4.5, 5, 8, and 9.2 months, respectively, and responders survived longer than nonresponders. Of the nine evaluable patients receiving carboplatin as the first salvage treatment, four responses were seen. Dose selection for the first cycle of carboplatin was based on previous treatment, and adjustments were made on the basis of myelosuppression. In general, treatment was well tolerated--severe myelosuppression occurred after 6 of 73 cycles. This review confirms previous reports of anti-tumor activity of carboplatin in patients with refractory or recurrent advanced EOC who respond to first-line treatment with cisplatin. Further evaluation may help define the toxicity and efficacy of salvage treatment with carboplatin compared to cisplatin in patients who recur after a prolonged disease-free interval after first-line cisplatin-based therapy.