Résumé : Patients with measurable or evaluable locally advanced or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the oesophagus were treated with cisplatin (CDDP), 100 mg/m2, combined with 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) at a dose of 1000 mg/m2 as a continuous infusion from days 1-5 (Arm A) or with CDDP alone (Arm B). Cycles were repeated every 3 weeks. 92 patients were randomised centrally, 88 were eligible. The response rate was 35% (95% CI (confidence interval), 20-54%) in Arm A and 19% (95% CI, 8-35%) in Arm B. One complete response was observed in each arm. The median duration of survival was 33 weeks and 28 weeks for Arm A and Arm B, respectively. Haematological and non-haematological toxicities were more frequent and more severe in Arm A. The most prominent toxicities were grade 4 aplasia and septicaemia (2), meningeal haemorrhage (1), cerebrovascular accident (3) and ischaemia of the lower limbs (1) all occurring in Arm A. Overall, seven treatment-related deaths (16%) were observed in Arm A, none in Arm E. The severe side-effects induced by the combination suggest that, currently, no standard chemotherapy can be recommended for patients with advanced squamous cell oesophageal cancer.