This phase I trial was designed to determine the safety and maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of tipifarnib in combination with gemcitabine and cisplatin in patients with advanced solid tumours. Furthermore, the pharmacokinetics of each of these agents was evaluated. Patients were treated with tipifarnib b.i.d. on days 1-7 of each 21-day cycle. In addition, gemcitabine was given as a 30-min i.v. infusion on days 1 and 8 and cisplatin as a 3-h i.v. infusion on day 1. An interpatient dose-escalation scheme was used. Pharmacokinetics was determined in plasma and white blood cells. In total, 31 patients were included at five dose levels. Dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs) consisted of thrombocytopenia grade 4, neutropenia grade 4, febrile neutropenia grade 4, electrolyte imbalance grade 3, fatigue grade 3 and decreased hearing grade 2. The MTD was tipifarnib 200 mg b.i.d., gemcitabine 1000 mg m-2 and cisplatin 75 mg m-2. Eight patients had a confirmed partial response and 12 patients stable disease. No clinically relevant pharmacokinetic interactions were observed. Tipifarnib can be administered safely at 200 mg b.i.d. in combination with gemcitabine 1000 mg m-2 and cisplatin 75 mg m-2. This combination showed evidence of antitumour activity and warrants further evaluation in a phase II setting.