The objective of this phase II trial was to assess the therapeutic activity and toxicity of doxorubicin plus ifosfamide in previously untreated patients with advanced soft tissue sarcoma. Treatment was doxorubicin 50 mg/m2 followed by a 24 h infusion of ifosfamide 5 g/m2 plus mesna 2.5 g/m2 repeated every 3 weeks until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity occurred. Of 203 patients entered, 175 were evaluable for response. The response rate was 35% (95% CI 28-42%), with 9% of the patients achieving a complete remission and 26% a partial remission. The median time to progression was 29 weeks for all evaluable patients, and 67, 40 and 28 weeks for complete and partial responders and patients with stable disease, respectively. The median duration of survival was 58 weeks. Myelosuppression was the dose-limiting toxicity, resulting in leukopenia (WHO grade 3 and 4) in 73% of evaluable treatment courses. Other side-effects were rare and usually well manageable.