We have examined the effect of theanine, a specific amino acid in green tea, on idarubicin (IDA)-induced antitumor activity and toxicity. In combination with theanine, IDA (0.25 mg/kg per day x4 days, a dose that does not show antitumor activity) had significant antitumor activity in P388-bearing mice. The IDA concentration in the tumors in the theanine plus IDA group increased to twice the level in the IDA alone group. Furthermore, the decrease in tumor weight caused by IDA at 1.0 mg/kg per day x4 days (at this dose IDA exhibits antitumor activity) was significantly amplified by theanine. The numbers of leukocyte and bone marrow cells decreased significantly on IDA injection. Theanine significantly reversed these changes. These results suggest that theanine selectively moderates the IDA-induced toxicities. Until recently, the antitumor activity and related toxicities of this chemotherapeutic agent in leukemia could not be distinguished. Theanine increases the IDA-induced antitumor activity and ameliorates the toxicities.