PURPOSE To examine the feasibility and efficacy of first-line high-dose chemotherapy (HD-CTX) in patients with advanced metastatic germ-cell tumors (GCT) and brain metastases. PATIENTS AND METHODS Twenty-two patients with brain metastases at initial diagnosis were identified within a cohort of two hundred thirty-one consecutive patients with advanced metastatic disease, entered on a German multicenter trial between January 1993 and July 1998. All patients received first-line HD-CTX with cisplatin-etoposide-ifosfamide (HD-VIP) followed by autologous stem-cell transplantation. Brain irradiation (BRT) with 30-50 Gy +/- 10 Gy boost was applied in patients with symptomatic CNS disease or as consolidation in case of residual CNS lesions after HD-CTX. RESULTS A median number of 4 HD-CTX cycles (range 2-5) were applied to the 22 patients. Ten patients received HD-CTX alone and twelve patients were treated with HD-CTX plus BRT. Median duration of WHO grade 4 granulocytopenia and thrombocytopenia was seven and five days after each cycle, respectively. Non-hematologic toxicity consisted mainly of mucositis/enteritis (WHO grade 3-4 32%). Two early deaths occurred in twenty-two patients (one CNS-bleeding/one sepsis). Fourteen of twenty patients achieved a CR/PRm- status. Twenty patients (91%) responded in the brain (55% CR/36% PR). Two-year progression-free and overall survival rates were 72% and 81%, respectively. These survival rates are substantially higher compared to the available data in the literature. CONCLUSIONS High-dose chemotherapy with autologous stem-cell support +/- BRT appears to be feasible without increased therapy-related mortality in patients with advanced metastatic GCT and brain metastases. The results achieved emphasize the high chemosensitivity of CNS metastases from GCT and suggest a potential role for dose intensification. The dose of BRT in addition to HD-CTX may be tailored to the presence of clinical symptoms and the response of CNS metastases to chemotherapy.