BACKGROUND: Biliary tract cancers (BTC) have a poor prognosis, and there is no consensus on the best chemotherapy regimen. This study determined the response rate for fixed-dose-rate (FDR) gemcitabine combined with cisplatin. METHODS: This multicentre phase II trial enrolled 50 patients with inoperable locally advanced or metastatic BTC. Treatment consisted of FDR gemcitabine 1,000 mg/m² (10 mg/m²/min) and cisplatin 20 mg/m² on days 1 and 8 of a 21-day cycle. The primary endpoint was response rate. Secondary endpoints included safety, response duration (RD), progression-free (PFS) and overall survival (OS), and cancer antigen 19-9 response. RESULTS: Thirteen patients (26%, 95% CI 14.6-40.4) had a partial response, and 12 (24%) had stable disease. The median RD was 8.3 months (95% CI 6.91-9.99); median PFS 4 months (95% CI 2.5-6.77); and median OS 6.8 months (95% CI 5.0-8.7). Treatment was well tolerated. Grade 3 and grade 4 nausea, vomiting, and fatigue were uncommon. Thirty-eight per cent of patients discontinued treatment because of toxicity, patient or clinician preference. CONCLUSIONS: This treatment combination had moderate activity with acceptable toxicity, supporting previous results that this combination has a role to play. The study does not suggest that FDR gemcitabine is superior to bolus infusion.