INTRODUCTION: The objectives of this trial were to evaluate the activity and safety of gemcitabine carboplatin as induction therapy in patients with locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer METHODS: Patients received two cycles of gemcitabine (1250 mg/m on day 1 and 8), plus carboplatin (area under the curve = 5 on day 1), after which response was established. Patients received a third course only in the case of an objective response (OR). Non-responding patients were directly irradiated. Toxicity was assessed according to the NCI-CTC version 2, radiation toxicity was assessed according to RTOG criteria. Response evaluation was performed according to RECIST criteria. RESULTS: We identified 42 patients, of whom 37 were eligible. Of these, 51% (95% CI, 34%-68%) achieved an OR, all partial responses. No disease progression on therapy was established. Toxicity was mostly hematological: 35% trombocytopenia grade 3 and 4, and 40% neutropenia grade 3 and 4. No severe bleeding or hospitalization because of febrile neutropenia occurred. CONCLUSIONS: Gemcitabine and carboplatin administered according to a 3-week schedule is an active and safe induction regimen. Pending the results of a phase III study, we believe that it is a reasonable alternative among patients for whom cisplatin-based chemotherapy is contraindicated.