A phase II trial was initiated to evaluate the efficacy and toxicity of combination chemotherapy with irinotecan (CPT-11) plus capecitabine in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. Patients received a combination of CPT-11 plus capecitabine. CPT-11 was infused intravenously on day 1 every 2 weeks and oral capecitabine was taken twice daily for 5 days every 7 days. Efficacy and toxicities were assessed. Between 2004 and 2005, 43 patients were enrolled. The overall response rate was 51.35%. With a median follow-up of 13 months, the median time to progression was 10 months (95% confidence interval 7.6-12.3 months); the median survival was 15 months (95% confidence interval 13.9-16.9 months). The most common grade 3 haematological and non-haematological toxicities were neutropenia (5.4%), diarrhoea (8.1%) and hand-foot syndrome (2.7%). CPT-11 plus capecitabine with a 14 day cycle showed a comparable response with international phase II data with a 3 weekly regimen and was well tolerated as a first-line palliative chemotherapy in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. The data should be interpreted with caution due to the limited sample size and should be further confirmed by a phase III randomised trial.