Background Cetuximab is a chimeric monoclonal antibody targeting the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). The recommended dosage is an initial load of 400 mg/m2 intravenously (IV) followed by a weekly maintenance dose of 250 mg/m2. It has been reported retrospectively that cetuximab efficacy was correlated with dose-related severity of skin rash. This study was prospectively designed to examine the safety and feasibility of escalating weekly doses of cetuximab, testing the hypothesis of the relationship of dose-dependent skin toxicity and efficacy. Methods Four dose levels were tested: Cetuximab 400 mg/m2 IV loading dose and 250, 300, 350, 400 mg/m2 weekly IV maintenance. There was no intra-patient dose escalation. Standard dose limiting toxicity criteria were used. Rash was evaluated using two additional validated dermatology methods: global acne grading scale (GAGS) and acne lesion counting (ALC). Tumor specimens and blood samples were obtained for correlative analyses. Results Twenty seven patients with solid tumors were enrolled: five head and neck, three pancreas, four gall bladder, two each of prostate, breast, colorectal, lung, and esophagus, and five others. Planned dose escalation was completed without reaching dose-limiting toxicity (DLT) or the maximum tolerated dose (MTD). The highest dose level was expanded to a total of 17 patients. Gr 3/4 toxicities included: lymphopenia (2), fatigue (2), and hypomagnesemia (2). One patient experienced a grade 3 rash (350 mg/m2). Sixty five percent of pts had a ≥ Gr 2 rash that was not dose dependent. In 22 evaluable patients, there was one partial response (PR) in a patient with cholangiocarcinoma (400 mg/m2) and seven patients had stable disease (SD). ALC and GAGS demonstrated no correlation with dose or response. Correlative studies evaluating k-ras, EGFR FISH status and immunologic correlatives were conducted on available tumor samples. Conclusions Cetuximab administered at 400 mg/m2 IV as a loading dose with weekly maintenance dose of 400 mg/m2 is feasible and well tolerated. There was no direct correlation of the grade of rash with dose in this group of patients with heterogenous solid tumors.