OBJECTIVE: Used alone, gemcitabine has shown modest, albeit significant, activity in patients with ovarian cancer. The response rate is usually greater when it is used in combination with other agents, and many combinations of gemcitabine show promise. This review summarizes the results of clinical trials where gemcitabine has been used in combination with other cytotoxic agents for the treatment of ovarian cancer in both newly diagnosed patients and those whose disease recurred despite heavy prior treatment. METHODS: The results of several clinical trials in which gemcitabine was used in combination with platinum compounds, paclitaxel, or other chemotherapeutic agents as either first-line or salvage therapy of ovarian cancer were reviewed. RESULTS: Gemcitabine appears to act synergistically when combined with a platinum compound, producing response rates as high as 71% in previously untreated patients. The addition of paclitaxel to this combination was even more effective for first-line therapy. When used in the salvage setting, combinations of gemcitabine with cisplatin or carboplatin and/or other cytotoxic agents were also effective and well tolerated. CONCLUSIONS: Combinations of gemcitabine with platinum compounds and/or other chemotherapeutic agents have significant activity with acceptable toxicity in patients with ovarian cancer, whether used as first-line therapy or in the salvage setting. The exact dosing and different mechanism of action of gemcitabine make it attractive for these combinations.