To determine the efficacy and tolerability of SPI-77 (sterically stabilised liposomal cisplatin) at three dose levels in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Patients had Stage IIIB or IV NSCLC and were chemo-naïve, and Eastern Oncology Cooperative Group 0–2. The first cohort received SPI-77 at 100 mg m−2, the second 200 mg m−2 and the final cohort 260 mg m−2. Patients had also pharmacokinetics and analysis of leucocyte platinum (Pt)-DNA adducts performed. Twenty-six patients were treated, with 22 patients being evaluable for response. Only one response occurred at the 200 mg m−2 dose level for an overall response rate of 4.5% (7.1% at ⩾200 mg m−2). No significant toxicity was noted including nephrotoxicity or ototoxicity aside from two patients with Grade 3 nausea. No routine antiemetics or hydration was used. The pharmacokinetic profile of SPI-77 was typical for a liposomally formulated drug, and the AUC appeared to be proportional to the dose of SPI-77. Plasma Pt levels and leucocyte DNA adduct levels did not appear to rise with successive doses. SPI-77 demonstrates only modest activity in patients with NSCLC.