Eighty-three patients with intermediate- or high-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphoma were treated with CEPP(B) (cyclophosphamide, etoposide [VP- 16], procarbazine, and prednisone with or without bleomycin) chemotherapy at Stanford University Medical Center (Stanford, CA) from January 1982 through June 1989. Sixty-nine received CEPP(B) as second- line or subsequent therapy after relapse from previous combination chemotherapy, and 14 patients received CEPP(B) as first-line therapy. Of 75 patients evaluable for response, 30 patients (40%) achieved a complete response (CR) and 24 patients (32%) achieved a partial response (PR), providing an overall response rate of 72%. Complete responses were recorded on 21 of 61 (34%) patients with recurrent disease and 9 of the 14 patients who received CEPP(B) as first line therapy (64%). Myelosuppression was the major side effect of treatment, resulting in eight neutropenic-febrile episodes from a total of 253 courses. A single fatal toxic event occurred on a patient who developed adult respiratory distress syndrome. Overall, CEPP(B) was well- tolerated and proved to be effective palliative therapy for patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma after relapse. As such, CEPP(B) may be considered for cytoreduction before ablative therapy and bone marrow transplantation. CEPP(B) may also be considered for initial therapy in selected patients who cannot tolerate doxorubicin-containing regimens.