ARTICLE ABSTRACTPurpose: We hypothesized that axitinib is active with an improved safety profile in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC).Experimental Design: We evaluated axitinib in preclinical models of NPC and studied its efficacy in a phase II clinical trial in recurrent or metastatic NPC patients who progressed after at least one line of prior platinum-based chemotherapy. We excluded patients with local recurrence or vascular invasion. Axitinib was started at 5 mg twice daily in continuous 4-week cycles. Primary endpoint was clinical benefit rate (CBR), defined as the percentage of patients achieving complete response, partial response, or stable disease by RECIST criteria for more than 3 months.Results: We recruited 40 patients, who received a median of 3 lines of prior chemotherapy. Axitinib was administered for a mean of 5.6 cycles, with 16 patients (40%) receiving ≥6 cycles. Of 37 patients evaluable for response, CBR was 78.4% (95% CI, 65.6%–91.2%) at 3 months and 43.2% (30.4%–56.1%) at 6 months. Grade 3/4 toxicities were uncommon, including hypertension (8%), diarrhea (5%), weight loss (5%), and pain (5%). All hemorrhagic events were grade 1 (15%) or grade 2 (3%). Elevated diastolic blood pressure during the first 3 months of axitinib treatment was significantly associated with improved overall survival (HR, 0.29; 95% CI, 0.13–0.64, P = 0.0012). Patient-reported fatigue symptom was associated with hypothyroidism (P = 0.039). Axitinib PK parameters (Cmax and AUC(0-t)) were significantly correlated with tumor response, toxicity, and serum thyroid-stimulating hormone changes.Conclusions: Axitinib achieved durable disease control with a favorable safety profile in heavily pretreated NPC patients. Clin Cancer Res; 24(5); 1030–7. ©2018 AACR.