Abstract Cisplatin/etoposide/bleomycin (DEB) was given as an outpatient regimen in a novel weekly schedule to 27 patients with recurrent and/or widely metastatic cancer of the head and neck region. Six of these patients also received mitomycin (DEB/M) when their disease failed to respond after at least three weekly DEB doses. All but three patients had been treated previously with radio-therapy directed to the primary site and regional nodal disease; four had also received chemotherapy with cisplatin or carboplatin. Before treatment with DEB, 19 patients had distant metastases. Of an intended 12 doses per patient, a mean of 8.2 was achieved. Myelosup-pression was the major toxicity, with neutropenia in 45% of patients and significant anemia in 26%. The overall response rate to DEB in 27 patients was 59%, increasing to 70% after the addition of mitomycin. There were two complete and 17 partial responses. The median duration of response was 12 weeks and median survival was 6 months, with 20% of patients surviving 1 year. We conclude that the relatively short survival time together with the significant toxicity of the DEB/M regimen does not warrant its routine use in clinical practice. However, this regimen, or one patterned on it, should be evaluated in combination with radiotherapy as the initial treatment for selected patients with previously untreated head and neck cancer.