This phase II study was performed to investigate the efficacy of a 3-hour 225 mg/m2 paclitaxel infusion (Taxol; Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Princeton, NJ) followed 24 hours later by a 30-minute infusion of carboplatin (dosed to an area under the concentration-time curve of 6) in patients with stage IIIA, IIIB, or IV non-small cell lung cancer. Patients received chemotherapy and were monitored for toxicity, response, quality of life, and survival. Paclitaxel and carboplatin pharmacokinetics were also determined with the first cycle of chemotherapy. Eleven men have been treated to date. Eight were white and three black, with a median age of 65 years. All patients had a performance status of 0 or 1. The regimen was well tolerated, with no deaths or grade 4 toxicities noted. The most common grade 3 toxicity was neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, and parasthesias (observed in <10% of cycles). The overall response rate was 57% (14% complete and 43% partial responses). Quality of life improved in most patients. Physical and emotional well-being improved in 57%, functional well-being in 43%, and social/family well-being in 14% of patients. Pharmacokinetic data are being analyzed by limited sampling technique to predict the paclitaxel area under the concentration-time curve. This unique schedule of paclitaxel and carboplatin is well tolerated and active, and is associated with improvements in various aspects of quality of life.