Antimetabolite drugs that inhibit nucleic acid metabolism are widely used in cancer chemotherapy. Nucleoside and nucleobase transporters are important for the cellular uptake of nucleic acids and their corresponding anticancer analogue drugs. Thus, these transporters may play a role both in antimetabolite drug sensitivity, by mediating the uptake of nucleoside analogues, and in antimetabolite drug resistance, by mediating the uptake of endogenous nucleosides that may rescue cells from toxicity. Therefore, we examined the relation of the expression of nucleoside and nucleobase transporters to antimetabolite cytotoxicity. We measured the RNA levels of all eight known nucleoside and nucleobase transporters in 50 cell lines included in the National Cancer Institute's Anticancer Drug Screen panel. RNA levels of concentrative nucleoside transporters (CNTs), equilibrative nucleoside transporters (ENTs) and nucleobase transporters (NCBTs) were determined by quantitative RT-PCR using real-time fluorescence acquisition. This method was validated by measuring the expression of the MDR1 gene, and correlating our results with independently determined measurements of MDR1 RNA levels and protein function in these cell lines. We then correlated the pattern of RNA levels to the pattern of cytotoxicity of anticancer drugs in the NCI drug screen database using the COMPARE analysis. Several hypothesized relations between transporter gene expression and cytotoxicity, based upon known interactions between certain nucleoside analogues and transporter proteins, were not observed, suggesting that expression of individual transporters may not be a significant determinant of the cytotoxicity of these drugs. The most closely correlated drug cytotoxicity patterns to transporter gene expression patterns (where increased expression corresponds to increase sensitivity) included those between CNT1 and O6-methylguanine and between ENT2 and hydroxyurea. We also observed that p53 status influenced correlations between ENT1 transporter gene RNA levels and sensitivity to the drugs tiazafurin, AZQ and 3-deazauridine. One of three drugs identified by correlation of cytotoxicity patterns with ENT1 RNA levels, 3-deazauridine, inhibited uptake of the classic ENT1 substrate uridine, demonstrating a physical interaction between an identified drug and the transporter. These studies demonstrate that it is possible to correlate genetic information to functional databases to determine the influence of transport gene expression on drug sensitivity and to identify transporter-drug interactions.