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The combination of docetaxel, cisplatin, and 5-fluorouracil (DCF) as preoperative treatment for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) has not been investigated. We carried out a multicenter phase II feasibility study of preoperative chemotherapy with DCF for ESCC. Patients with clinical stage II/III ESCC (International Union Against Cancer TNM classification system, 6th edition) were eligible. Chemotherapy consisted of i.v. docetaxel (70–75 mg/m2) and cisplatin (70–75 mg/m2) on day 1, and continuous infusion of fluorouracil (750 mg/m2/day) on days 1–5. Antibiotic prophylaxis on days 5–15 was mandatory. This regimen was repeated every 3 weeks with a maximum of three cycles allowed. After completion of chemotherapy, esophagectomy with extended lymphadenectomy was carried out. The primary endpoint was the completion rate of protocol treatment. Forty-two eligible patients were enrolled. During chemotherapy, the most common grade 3 or 4 toxicities were neutropenia (83%), anorexia (7%), and stomatitis (5%). Forty-one (98%) patients underwent surgery. The completion rate of protocol treatment was 90.5% (38/42). No treatment-related death was observed and the incidence of operative morbidity was tolerable. According to RECIST, the overall response rate after the completion of DCF was 64.3%. Pathological complete response was achieved in 17%. The estimated 2-year progression-free survival and overall survival were 74.5% and 88.0%, respectively. Although these data are preliminary, preoperative DCF was well tolerated. Antitumor activity was highly promising and warrants further investigation. This trial was registered with University Hospital Medical Information Network (no. UMIN000002396).