The higher incidence of cardiotoxicity of doxorubicin (DOX)/paclitaxel (PTX) combination compared with DOX alone remains to be a major obstacle against effective chemotherapeutic treatment. We investigated the effect of sequence and time interval between administration of both drugs on the severity of cardiotoxicity of the combination. Male Wistar rats were divided into seven groups. DOX was administered intraperitoneally (i.p.) at a single dose of 5 mg x kg(-1) every other 2 days, 2 doses per week for a total cumulative dose of 20 mg x kg(-1). PTX was administered by an i.p. route at a dose of 20 mg x kg(-1) every other 2 days. Both drugs were injected either alone or sequentially in combination. In one case, DOX preceded PTX by 30 min and 24 h and in the other case, PTX preceded DOX by 30 min and 24 h. Cardiotoxicity was evaluated by both biochemical and histopathological examination, 48 h after the last DOX dose. DOX-induced cardiotoxicity was manifested by abnormal biochemical changes including marked increases in serum creatine phosphokinase isoenzyme (CK-MB), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px), and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) activity levels. Myocardial tissue from DOX-treated rats showed significant increases in malondialdehyde (MDA) production and total nitrate/nitrite (NOx) levels, parallel with depletion of "endogenous antioxidant reserve," including GSH contents and GSH-Px activity level. PTX treatment produced significant changes in the biochemical parameters measured by a lower magnitude than those changes produced by DOX alone. Combination of both drugs resulted in aggravation of DOX-induced cardiotoxicity regardless the sequence and time interval between administration of either drug. Administration of PTX 30 min and 24 h after DOX treatment showed exaggeration of combination-induced cardiotoxicity compared with the reverse sequence. This exacerbation was manifested by much more pronounced changes in serum and cardiac tissue parameters measured. Histopathological examination of ventricles of rat's heart revealed that DOX treatment produced myo-cytolysis and myocardial necrosis. Administration of PTX following DOX treatment showed extensive myocardial necrosis compared with those rats treated with either DOX alone or the reverse sequence of administration. Moreover, rats treated with PTX 24 h after DOX treatment showed exaggeration of the combination-induced cardiotoxicity. In conclusion, PTX might synergistically aggravate DOX-induced cardiotoxicity. The effect might be much more pronounced with those rats treated with PTX 24 h after DOX treatment.