Liposomal irinotecan (irinotecan liposome injection, nal-IRI), a liposomal formulation of irinotecan, is designed for extended circulation relative to irinotecan and for exploiting discontinuous tumor vasculature for enhanced drug delivery to tumors. Following tumor deposition, nal-IRI is taken up by phagocytic cells followed by irinotecan release and conversion to its active metabolite, SN-38. Sustained inhibition of topoisomerase 1 by extended SN-38 exposure as a result of delivery by nal-IRI is hypothesized to enable superior antitumor activity compared with traditional topoisomerase 1 inhibitors such as conventional irinotecan and topotecan. We evaluated the antitumor activity of nal-IRI compared with irinotecan and topotecan in preclinical models of small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) including in a model pretreated with carboplatin and etoposide, a first-line regimen used in SCLC. Nal-IRI demonstrated antitumor activity in xenograft models of SCLC at clinically relevant dose levels, and resulted in complete or partial responses in DMS-53, DMS-114, and NCI-H1048 cell line-derived models as well as in three patient-derived xenograft models. The antitumor activity of nal-IRI was superior to that of topotecan in all models tested, which generally exhibited limited control of tumor growth and was superior to irinotecan in four out of five models. Further, nal-IRI demonstrated antitumor activity in tumors that progressed following treatment with topotecan or irinotecan, and demonstrated significantly greater antitumor activity than both topotecan and irinotecan in NCI-H1048 tumors that had progressed on previous carboplatin plus etoposide treatment. These results support the clinical development of nal-IRI in patients with SCLC.