Topotecan, a semi-synthetic camptothecin analogue with topoisomerase I interaction, has shown to be an active agent in the treatment of advanced refractory lung cancer. This paper describes the authors' experience with this drug when used as a single agent in patients (pts) with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) refractory to platinum- and taxane-containing chemotherapy regimens. Thirty-five patients with NSCLC refractory to previous chemotherapy and KI ≥ 60% were included in the study. Their characteristics are as follows: median age of 52 years (range 43-69) and Karnofsky PS of 70 (60-80); 27 were male and 8 were female. Twenty-one (60%) patients had adenocarcinoma; eleven (31.4%), squamous cell, and three (8.5%), undifferentiated carcinoma. There was a median of two disease sites and two prior chemotherapy regimens. Topotecan was administered at a dose of 1.25 mg/m2 I.V. daily for 5 days, repeated every 21 days until disease progression, maximal response, or intolerable toxicity. After 73 cycles, patients received a median of 2 treatment cycles (1-9). All patients except one were considered evaluable for toxicity; eight episodes (24%) of nausea/vomiting and two episodes (6%) of grade 1-2 asthenia, respectively, were reported. Four (12%) patients developed grade 1-2 anemia and two (6%) subjects suffered grade 3 anemia. Seven (21%) patients had grade 1-2 neutropenia and one (3%) presented grade 5 neutropenia. In 33 patients evaluable for activity of the 35 subjects included in the study; one (2.8%) presented a partial response; nine (25.7%) had stable disease, and 23 (65.7%) exhibited disease progression. Median time to progression and overall survival were 54 (12-210) and 70 (12-324) days, respectively. Intravenous topotecan at that dose and administration schedule displays scant activity in terms of response rate in individuals with advanced NSCLC previously treated with platinum and taxanes. The role and usefulness of chemotherapy in this setting warrants further investigation and confirmation through comparative studies.