The anticancer activity of platinum complexes has been known since the discovery of classical Pt(II)-based drug cisplatin. However, Pt(IV) complexes have greater inertness than corresponding Pt(II) complexes, thus allowing the oral administration and reducing the toxicity associated with platinum-based chemotherapy. Here, we describe the in vitro antitumor activity of some novel Pt(IV)-based agents against mouse fibrosarcoma L929 cells and human astrocytoma U251 cells. The cytotoxicity of 2 Pt(IV) complexes with bidentate ethylenediamine-N,N′-di-3-propanoato esters was found to be markedly higher than that of their Pt(II) counterparts and comparable to the antitumor action of cisplatin. In contrast to cisplatin, which caused oxidative stress-independent apoptotic cell death of tumor cells, these Pt(IV) complexes induced oxygen radical-mediated tumor cell necrosis. Importantly, the cytotoxic action of novel Pt(IV) complexes was markedly more rapid than that of cisplatin, indicating their potential usefulness in anticancer therapy. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.