Two kinds of water-insoluble (1-->3)-alpha-D-glucan samples, ab-PCM3-I and ac-PCM3-I, isolated from different Poria cocos mycelia were sulfated, to produce two series of water-soluble derivatives ab-PCM3-I-S1-S5 and ac-PCM3-I-S1-S5, respectively. The derivatives having different weight-average molecular mass (Mw) were produced by changing reaction temperature and time as well as molar ratios between chlorosulfonic acid and number of hydroxyl groups in the glucan. The degrees of substitution (DS) of the sulfated derivatives were analyzed by elemental analysis (EA) to be 0.39-0.67 for ab-PCM3-I-S and 0.73-0.96 for ac-PCM3-I-S, respectively. The Mw and the intrinsic viscosity ([eta]) of the samples ab-PCM3-I-S and the ac-PCM3-I-S were measured by size exclusion chromatography combined with laser light scattering (SEC-LLS) and viscometry in phosphate buffer solution (PBS) at 37 degrees C. The results indicated that their Mw ranged from 2.0 to 11.3 x 10(4) for the samples ab-PCM3-I-S, and 4.7 to 40.0 x 10(4) for the samples ac-PCM3-I-S. Moreover, the antitumor activities of the sulfated derivatives ab-PCM3-I-S and ac-PCM3-I-S against Sarcoma 180 tumor cell tested both in vitro and in vivo are significantly higher than those of the native alpha-D-glucans. Therefore, a moderate range of molecular mass from 2.0 x 10(4) to 40.0 x 10(4), relatively high chain stiffness and good water solubility of the sulfated derivatives are beneficial to the enhancement of their antitumor activities.