The authors define the dose-limiting toxicities and the recommended phase II doses of paclitaxel combined with etoposide, without and with filgrastim support. Patients with advanced solid tumors were eligible if they had a performance status of 0 to 2 and normal renal, hepatic, and bone marrow function. Patients with cardiac arrhythmias or congestive heart failure requiring medical therapy were excluded. Prior radiation was allowed only if it involved less than 30% of the marrow-containing skeleton. The dose of etoposide was fixed at 100mg/m2/d for 3 days beginning on day 1. Paclitaxel was administered over 3 hours on day 4. The dose of paclitaxel was escalated until the maximum tolerated dose (MTD), without and with filgrastim 5 μg/kg (or 300 μg total dose) subcutaneously beginning on day 5, was reached. Treatment cycles were repeated every 21 days. Of 39 patients entered, 37 were evaluable for toxicity and 30 for response. The principal toxicity was neutropenia. Without filgrastim, the MTD of paclitaxel was 150 mg/m2. With filgrastim, the dose of paclitaxel was escalated to 250 mg/m2 in combination with etoposide 100 mg/m2. One episode of pulmonary toxicity was observed. Five patients responded: two with previously treated non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), two with refractory small-cell lung cancer (SCLC), and one with refractory germ-cell tumor (GCT). We conclude that paclitaxel and etoposide can be given in combination at clinically relevant doses with filgrastim support. In this phase I trial, a dose of paclitaxel of 200 mg/m2 on day 4 and etoposide at 100 mg/m2/d on days 1-3, with filgrastim 5 μg/kg beginning on day 5, was found to be well tolerated, and can be recommended for future studies. Without filgrastim, a paclitaxel dose of 150 mg/m2 with the same dose of etoposide can also be recommended.