Ganopoly is an aqueous polysaccharide fraction extracted from G. lucidum by patented biochemical technique and has been marketed as an over-the-counter product for chronic diseases including cancer and hepatopathy in many Asian countries. This study was undertaken to explore the anti-tumour effect and the underlying mechanisms of Ganopoly in mice and human tumor cell lines. The maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of Ganopoly in mice was estimated to be 100 mg/kg from a pilot study. Treatment of mice with oral Ganopoly for 10 days significantly reduced the tumour weight of sarcoma-180 in a dose-dependent manner, with inhibition rates of 32.3, 48.2 and 84.9% and growth delays of 1.5, 3.5, and 13.1 days at 20, 50, and 100 mg/kg, respectively. Incubation of Ganopoly at 0.05-1.0 mg/ml for 48 hours showed little or negligible cytotoxicity against human tumor CaSki, SiHa, Hep3B, HepG2, HCT116 HT29, and MCF7 cells in vitro. In contrast, 10 mg/ml of Ganopoly caused significant cytotoxicity in all tumour cells tested except MCF7, with marked apoptotic effect observed in CaSki, HepG2, and HCT116 cells, as indicated by nuclear staining and DNA fragmentation. In addition, Ganopoly enhanced concanavalin A-stimulated proliferation of murine splenocytes by 35.3% at 10 mg/ml, and stimulated the production of nitric oxide in thioglycollate-primed murine peritoneal macrophages in a concentration-dependent manner over 0.05-10 mg/ml. Addition of Ganopoly at 1 mg/ ml to murine peritoneal macrophages also potentiated lipopolysaccharide-induced nitric oxide production by 64.2%. Treatment of healthy mice or mice bearing sarsoma-180 with oral Ganopoly over 20-100 mg/kg for 7 day significantly increased the expression of both TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma (at both mRNA and protein levels) in splenocytes in a dose-dependent manner. Moreover, treatment of Ganopoly over 20-100 mg/kg significantly increased cytotoxic T lymphocyte cytotoxicity and NK activity in mice. The overall findings indicated that Ganopoly had antitumor activity with a broad spectrum of immuno-modulating activities and may represent a novel promising immunotherapeutic agent in cancer treatment.