Several authors have demonstrated that coumarin (1,2-benzopyrone) in combination with cimetidine can produce objective antitumor responses in some patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma. The purpose of this report is to review the clinical development of coumarin, with or without cimetidine, with special reference to renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Previously unpublished data concerning the survival of a population of patients with RCC, who were treated on a phase I trial of coumarin and cimetidine, are presented. The rationale and study design of an active randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial of coumarin for RCC are discussed. A progress report is given for an ongoing phase I trial of oral 7-hydroxycoumarin, the major human metabolite of coumarin. © 1994 Springer-Verlag.