To identify an orally available fluoropyrimidine having efficacy and safety profiles greatly improved over those of parenteral 5-fluorouracil (5-FU: 1), we designed a 5-FU prodrug that would pass intact through the intestinal mucisa and be sequentially converted to 5-FU by enzymes that are highly expressed in the human liver and then in tumors. Among various N4-substituted 5'-deoxy-5-fluorocytidine derivatives, a series of N4-alkoxycarbonyl derivatives were hydrolyzed to 5'-deoxy-5-fluorocytidine (5'-DFCR: 8) specifically by carboxylesterase, which exists preferentially in the liver in humans and monkeys. Particularly, derivatives having an N4-alkoxylcarbonyl moiety with a C4-C6 alkyl chain were the most susceptible to the human carboxylesterase. Those were then converted to 5'-deoxy-5-fluorouridine (5'-DFUR: 4) by cytidine deaminase highly expressed in the liver and solid tumors and finally to 5-FU by thymidine phosphorylase (dThdPase) preferentially located in tumors. When administered orally to monkeys, a derivative having the N4-alkoxylcarbonyl moiety with a C5 alkyl chain (capecitabine: 6) The highest AUC and Cmax for plasma 5'-DFUR. In tests with various human cancer xenograft models, capecitabine was more efficacious at wider dose ranges than either 5-FU or 5'-DFUR and was significantly less toxic to the intestinal tract than the others in monkeys.