In addition to playing a role in tumorigenesis, loss of DNA mismatch repair results in low-level intrinsic resistance to cisplatin and carboplatin. We used a mismatch repair-deficient (clone B) and -proficient (clone B/rev) pair of Chinese hamster ovary sublines to determine the ability of cisplatin to enrich for repair-deficient cells during growth in vitro and in vivo. Clone B cells were 1.8-fold resistant to cisplatin as measured by a clonogenic assay. These cells were molecularly engineered to express constitutively the green fluorescent protein, and changes in the fraction of these repair-deficient cells were monitored by flow cytometric analysis. A single 1-hr exposure to cisplatin at an IC50 concentration enriched populations initially containing either 5 or 10% clone B cells by 81 and 75%, respectively, when measured at 5 days. Enrichment increased as a function of drug concentration to 158 and 169%, respectively, following an IC90 exposure. When grown as a xenograft, a single LD10 dose of cisplatin enriched the tumors by 48% from 4.6 to 6.8% repair-deficient cells (p = 0.04). To determine whether similar enrichment occurs during the treatment of human ovarian cancer patients, paired tumor samples were obtained from 38 patients before and after treatment with a minimum of 3 cycles of platinum drug-based primary chemotherapy and analyzed immunohistochemically for changes in the fraction of tumor cells expressing hMHL1. Following treatment there was a reduction in hMLH1 staining in 66% of the cases (p = 0.0005). Our results demonstrate that, despite the fact that loss of mismatch repair yields only modest levels of cisplatin resistance, even a single exposure to cisplatin produces quite a marked enrichment for repair-deficient cells in vitro and in vivo. Our results are consistent with the concept that treatment with cisplatin or carboplatin selects for preexisting mismatch repair-deficient cells, and that this contributes to the frequent development of clinical resistance.