The prognosis for unresectable, locally advanced or metastatic transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder is poor with most patients succumbing to their disease within 2 to 3 years. Clinical management at this stage of the disease is palliative with systemic chemotherapy the main treatment of choice. A number of cytotoxic agents have shown activity in metastatic disease including cisplatin, methotrexate, doxorubicin and vinblastine. However, response rates still need improving and toxicities may sometimes be severe, and so the search for newer agents with improved benefit-to-risk ratios is constantly being pursued. One such agent that shows promise is gemcitabine.