WE REPORT ON the toxicity, intrathecal pharmacokinetics, and therapeutic effect of the ventriculolumbar perfusion of 3-[(4-amino-2-methyl-5-pyrimidinyl)methyl]-1-(2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea hydrochloride (ACNU) against the subarachnoid dissemination of primary central nervous system tumors. Fifteen patients received ventriculolumbar perfusion of ACNU. One was treated with ventriculolumbar perfusion of ACNU alone, and the others underwent concomitant systemic chemotherapy; three of these patients received irradiation as well. ACNU was administered at an initial dose of 0.5 and was increased to 1.5 to 10.0 mg in six patients. Because of a lack of Level 2 or greater toxicity, the subsequent seven patients received 8.7 to 10.0 mg of ACNU dissolved in artificial cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) at a concentration of 0.1 mg/ml, from the start of the treatment. During ACNU administration, the lumbar CSF was drained at approximately the same rate as that of the infusion. Twelve patients received from 3 to 42 courses (average, 14 courses). The cumulative dose of ACNU ranged from 5 to 330.4 mg (average, 82.9 mg). One patient had a convulsion; two patients experienced transient headache, nausea, and vomiting; two others reported transient headache, nausea, vomiting, and fecal incontinence; and one experienced transient nausea, vomiting, and fecal incontinence. No side effects were noted in the other nine patients. When 9.0 to 9.5 mg of ACNU, dissolved in 90 to 95 ml of artificial CSF, was administered for 37 to 52 min, the maximum concentration of ACNU in the lumbar CSF was 9.86 to 12.79 μg/ml and the area under the drug concentration-time curve was 260.8 to 502.5 μg·min/ml. The half-time was 10.7 to 26.4 min. Six of 11 patients in whom the therapeutic effect could be evaluated showed a partial response. These data suggest that the ventriculolumbar perfusion of ACNU is a safe and feasible treatment against the subarachnoid dissemination of primary central nervous system tumors.