Background. We have evaluated the clinical efficacy and toxicity of a modified etoposide, methylprednisolone, cytarabine and cisplatin (ESHAP) chemotherapy regimen that has been used by the Hacettepe University Department of Medical Oncology (Ankara, Turkey) since 1993. Methods: Thirty-two patients (18 men and 14 women) with refractory or recurrent non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) were treated with this protocol. The median age of the patients was 39 years (range 21-66 years). Patients were hospitalized during therapy. On the first day, 2 g/m(2) cytarabine was given, followed on days 2-5 by 60 mg/m(2) etoposide, 500 mg of methylprednisolone and 25 mg/m(2) cisplatin. After two cycles of chemotherapy, clinical efficacy was assessed by clinical examination, chest radiography, ultrasonography and/or computed tomography. The complications were assessed on the basis of the World Health Organization criteria. Results: Nine patients (28%) had a complete response and 8 patients (25%) had a partial response. In responders, the median duration of remission was 6 months. By the end of the first year, 27% of the patients were still disease free and 66% were alive. High serum levels of lactate dehydrogenase had an adverse effect on disease-free survival, but no effect on overall survival (OS). The only unfavorable prognostic factor for OS was the presence of bulky disease. Neutropenia developed in 59% of patients, and febrile neutropenia developed in 74% of these patients, requiring hospitalization for an average of 8 days. Three patients died of neutropenia-associated sepsis despite broad-spectrum antibacterial and antifungal treatment. Thrombocytopenia was detected in 10 patients and anemia in 3 patients; among these, 7 patients with thrombocytopenia and 1 patient with anemia required transfusions. Conclusions: The modified ESHAP regimen induced remission in more than half of the patients with refractory or recurrent NHL. However, the duration of remission was brief. Moreover, significant myelotoxicity was common, and the risk of treatment-related death was 9%. Copyright (C) 2002 S. Karger AG, Basel.