The stability and compatibility of fotemustine, a nitrosourea anticancer agent, in 5% dextrose solution with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) containers and administration sets were studied under different conditions of temperature and light. The drug was diluted to 0.8 and 2 mg ml(-1) in 100 or 250 ml 5% dextrose injection solutions for 1-h simulated infusions using PVC bags and administration sets with protection from light. After preparation in the PVC bags containing 5% dextrose, fotemustine was also prepared at the same concentrations and stored at 4 degrees C for 48 h and at room temperature (22 degrees C) or at sunray exposure ( > 30 degrees C) over 8 h with or without protection from light. The solution samples were removed immediately at various time points of simulated infusions and storage, and stored at -20 degrees C until analysis. The physical compatibility with PVC and chemical stability in solution of fotemustine were assessed by visual examination and by measuring the concentration of the drug in duplicate using a stability-indicating high-performance chromatographic assay. When admixed with a 5% dextrose solution, fotemustine 2 and 0.8 mg ml(-1) was compatible and stable over 1-h of simulated infusion using PVC bags through PVC administration sets with protection from light. On the other hand, in the same diluent, fotemustine was compatible and stable with PVC bags for at least 8 h at 22 degrees C with protection from light and for at least 48 h at 4 degrees C with protection from light. There were no pH variation, no visual change, no color change, no visible precipitation and no loss of the drug. Conversely, when the solutions were exposed to light (ambient or solar), the drug concentration decreased rapidly, leading to the production of a degradation product as shown by mass spectral analysis and a discoloration of the solutions. Finally, in all cases, no DEHP (di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate) was detected in the injection solution.