Eighteen patients with esophageal carcinoma (16 adenocarcinoma, two squamous cell carcinoma) were treated with two cycles of induction chemotherapy consisting of paclitaxel (Taxol; Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Princeton, NJ) 175 mg/m2(3-hour infusion), cisplatin 20 mg/m2/d x 4 days, and 5-fluorouracil 1 g/m2/d (continuous infusion x 4 days) separated by a 28-day interval before surgical resection. After resection, patients received two more cycles of the same regimen. A thorough staging evaluation was performed before patients were enrolled in the study. The salient chemotherapy toxicities included grade 3 nausea (two patients), grade 3 vomiting (two patients), grades 3 and 4 diarrhea (one patient each), and grades 3 and 4 neutropenia (two and 10 patients, respectively). No deaths occurred due to toxicity. Surgical resection was attempted in all 18 patients (100%) after two cycles of induction chemotherapy. Esophageal resection was successfully completed in 17 patients. Liver metastases were noted at laparotomy in the one patient who subsequently did not undergo esophageal resection. Surgical complications were minor, and no postoperative deaths occurred. Fifteen patients received two additional cycles of the paclitaxel/5-fluorouracil/cisplatin regimen postoperatively, two received only one cycle, and one refused further therapy. Of 15 patients alive, 14 show no evidence of disease. The 1-year actuarial survival rate of this group of patients is 82%. In conclusion, the paclitaxel/5-fluorouracil/cisplatin combination is well tolerated and is an active regimen in esophageal carcinoma.