i.v. paclitaxel is inconvenient and associated with significant and poorly predictable side effects largely due to the pharmaceutical vehicle Cremophor EL. Oral administration may be attractive because it may circumvent the use of Cremophor EL. However, paclitaxel, as well as many other commonly applied drugs, has poor bioavailability caused by high affinity for the mdrl P-glycoprotein drug efflux pump, which is abundantly present in the gastrointestinal tract. Consequently, inhibition of P-glycoprotein by oral cyclosporin A (CsA) should increase systemic exposure of oral paclitaxel to therapeutic levels. A proof-of-concept study was carried out in 14 patients with solid tumors. Patients received one course of oral paclitaxel of 60 mg/m2 with or without 15 mg/kg CsA and with i.v. paclitaxel in subsequent courses. The pharmacokinetics of paclitaxel and its major metabolites were determined during the first two courses. In addition, levels of CsA, Cremophor EL, and ethanol were measured. Bioavailability of oral paclitaxel in combination with CsA was 8-fold higher than after oral paclitaxel alone (P<0.001). Therapeutic concentrations were achieved on average during 7.4 h, which is comparable with an equivalent i.v. dose. The oral combination was well tolerated and did not induce gastrointestinal toxicity or myelosuppression. Cremophor EL plasma levels after oral drug administration were undetectable. In conclusion, coadministration of oral CsA increased the systemic exposure of oral paclitaxel from negligible to therapeutic levels. The combination enables treatment with oral paclitaxel. Undetectable Cremophor EL levels after oral administration may have a very beneficial influence on the safety of the treatment with oral paclitaxel.