Several estrogen-tethered platinum(IV) complexes were prepared and characterized by ESI-MS and (1)H NMR spectroscopy. Their design was inspired by the observation that estrogen receptor-positive cells exposed to the hormone are sensitized to cisplatin. Intracellular reduction of bis-estrogen-cis-diamminedichloroplatinum(IV), BEP(n) (where n = 1-5 methylene groups between Pt and estrogen), occurs to afford cisplatin and two equivalents of the linker-modified estrogen. The ability of BEP(n) to induce overexpression of HMGB1 was established by immunofluorescence microscopy. The cytotoxicity of the compounds was evaluated in ER(+) MCF-7 and ER(-) HCC-1937 human breast cancer cell lines. BEP3 selectively induces overexpression of HMGB1 in MCF-7 cells, compared to HCC-1937 cells, and enhances their sensitivity (IC(50) = 2.1 +/- 0.4 microM versus 3.7 +/- 0.9 microM, respectively) to the compound. The difference in compound activities and the potential of compounds of this class for treating breast and ovarian cancer are discussed.