A nitroreductase enzyme that has been isolated from Escherichia coli B is capable of bioactivating CB1954 [5-(aziridin-1-yl)-2,4-dinitrobenzamide] to a cytotoxic agent, a property shared with the mammalian enzyme Walker DT diaphorase [NAD(P)H dehydrogenase (quinone), EC 220.127.116.11] as isolated from Walker cells. In contrast to Walker DT diaphorase, which can only reduce the 4-nitro group of CB1954, the E. coli nitroreductase can reduce either (but not both) nitro groups of CB1954 to the corresponding hydroxylamino species. The two hydroxylamino species are formed in equal proportions and at the same rates. CB1954 is reduced much more rapidly by the E. coli nitroreductase than by Walker DT diaphorase. If the reduction of CB1954 was carried out in the presence of V79 cells (which are insensitive to CB1954) a large cytotoxic effect was evident. This cytotoxicity was only observed under conditions in which the E. coli nitroreductase or Walker DT diaphorase reduced the drug. It is proposed that E. coli B nitroreductase would be a suitable enzyme for antibody-directed enzyme prodrug therapy (ADEPT) in combination with CB1954.