The purpose of our study was to investigate the pharmacokinetics of Cremophor EL following administration of escalating doses of Taxol (paclitaxel dissolved in Cremophor EL/ethanol) to non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. Patients with NSCLC stage IIIb or IV without prior chemotherapy treatment were eligible for treatment with paclitaxel and carboplatin in a dose-finding phase I study. The starting dose of paclitaxel was 100 mg/m2 and doses were escalated with steps of 25 mg/m2, which is equal to a starting dose of Cremophor EL of 8.3 ml/m2 with dose increments of 2.1 ml/m2. Carboplatin dosages were 300, 350 or 400 mg/m2. Pharmacokinetic sampling was performed during the first and the second course, and the samples were analyzed using a validated high-performance liquid chromatographic assay. A total of 39 patients were included in this pharmacokinetic part of the study. The doses of paclitaxel were escalated up to 250 mg/m2 (20.8 ml/m2 Cremophor EL). Pharmacokinetic analyses revealed a low elimination-rate of Cremophor EL (CI=37.8-134 ml/h/m2; t 1/2=34.4-61.5 h) and a volume of distribution similar to the volume of the central blood compartment (Vss=4.96-7.85 l). In addition, a dose-independent clearance of Cremophor EL was found indicating linear kinetics. Dose adjustment using the body surface area, however, resulted in a non-linear increase in systemic exposure. The use of body surface area in calculations of Cremophor EL should therefore be re-evaluated.