The total synthesis of tetra(4-carboranylphenyl)porphyrins 4 and 6 and their zinc(II) complexes 5 and 7 are described. These compounds were characterized by analytical and spectroscopic methods and, in the case of 5, by X-ray crystallography. The water-soluble nido-carboranylporphyrins 6 and 7 were found to have low dark toxicity towards V79 hamster lung fibroblast cells, using a clonogenic assay (50% colony survival, CS(50)>300 microM). Upon light activation nido-carboranylporphyrin 6 effectively induced DNA damage in vitro. Two different methods were used to assess the extent of DNA damage: the super-coiled to nicked DNA and the alkaline Comet assay using human leukemia K562 cells. Significant PDT-induced DNA damage was observed for porphyrin 6 using both assays, compared to light-only and porphyrin-only experiments. It is concluded that this type of nido-carboranylporphyrin is a promising sensitizer for both the boron neutron capture therapy and the photodynamic therapy of tumors.