We evaluated the toxicity and pharmacokinetics of the combination of dexrazoxane with epirubicin at dexrazoxane/epirubicin dose ratios of 5 to 9:1 in a controlled, crossover phase I study in patients with advanced malignancy.Thirty-eight patients with a variety of malignancies were enrolled. Assessable patients received two cycles of chemotherapy consisting of epirubicin alone and in combination with dexrazoxane. Comparisons were made between the toxicity and pharmacokinetics of epirubicin in the two treatment arms, using each patient as his or her own control. Dexrazoxane and epirubicin were delivered at dose levels of 600/120 mg/m2, 900/120 mg/m2, 900/135 mg/m2, 900/150 mg/m2, and 1,200/135 mg/m2, respectively. Twenty-six patients completed two cycles of chemotherapy and were therefore assessable.The maximum-tolerated doses (MTDs) of dexrazoxane/epirubicin were 1,200/135 mg/m2, with the dose-limiting toxicities being neutropenia, infection, and stomatitis. There was no difference in the nadir neutrophil or platelet counts between single-agent and combination treatment at any of the dose levels. Severe vomiting and stomatitis occurred less frequently following administration of epirubicin and dexrazoxane when compared with epirubicin alone (P = .01 and .02, respectively). Prior administration of higher doses (900 mg/m2 and 1,200 mg/m2) of dexrazoxane increased the systemic clearance of epirubicin, resulting in a decrease in the area under the curve (AUC). Elimination half-life, maximum plasma concentration (Cmax), and apparent volume of distribution of epirubicin were not significantly affected by dexrazoxane. Left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) decreased by greater than 10% in two patients, but neither developed clinical or radiologic evidence of cardiac failure.This study demonstrates that dexrazoxane can be safely combined with escalating doses of epirubicin at dose ratios of 5 to 9:1 without having an adverse impact on toxicity. Studies are need to determine the optimal dose ratio for cardioprotection and to explore further the pharmacokinetic interactions of the two drugs at increasing doses of epirubicin supported by hematopoietic growth factors.