The anti-cancer taxoids, Taxol (paclitaxel) and Taxotere (docetaxel), are the most promising anti-mitotic agents developed for cancer treatment in the past decade. The effectiveness of this new class of compounds lies in their unique mechanism of action on the cytoskeleton. Both taxol and taxotere bind to microtubules and shift the normal equilibrium between monomeric and polymerized tubulin to favor the polymerized form by strongly promoting tubulin assembly and inhibiting microtubule depolymerization. Although very similar in structure, these two compounds have recently demonstrated different in vitro, in vivo, and clinical activities; however, no study to date has effectively compared specific cytoskeletal alterations induced by taxol and taxotere in cultured cells. Using specific staining techniques for both F-actin and alpha-tubulin, this study provides the first detailed immunohistochemical comparison of the effects of equimolar concentrations of taxol and taxotere on both the microfilament and microtubule networks in a cultured cell line. Using human MCF7 breast adenocarcinoma cells, new observations of taxotere/taxol alterations of the cytoskeleton include: an increased abundance of parallel microtubule 'bundles' in taxotere treated cells and a definitive reorganization of the microfilament network which results in novel ring-like formations of F-actin condensed exclusively in the perinuclear zone. Reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton induced by a taxoid disruption of the microtubule equilibrium is indicative of the interdependence between microtubules and microfilaments in this transformed cell line and suggests that the indirect role of the taxoids on the microfilament network may have been overlooked in their mechanism of action as chemotherapeutic agents.