A water soluble macromolecular conjugate of camptothecin (CPT) with a new, dual phase hydrolytic drug release mechanism was prepared on the basis of a 60 kDa biodegradable hydrophilic "stealth" polyacetal, poly(1-hydroxymethylethylene hydroxy-methyl formal). Succinamido-glycinate was used as a prodrug releasing group. A model preparation with 7.5% CPT content w/w was water soluble. The lipophilic camptothecin prodrug, camptothecin-(O20)-succinimidoglycinate, was released from the conjugate with t(1/2) = 2.2 +/- 0.1 h in rodent plasma. The blood clearance in a rodent model as measured by CPT was release limited, t(1/2) = 2.1 +/- 0.2 h, while the conjugate half-life was 14.2 +/- 1.7 h. In a xenograft tumor model, the conjugate demonstrated higher antineoplastic efficacy than CPT at a less than equitoxic dose. This improved therapeutic window is in line with the modified drug pharmacokinetics and with camptothecin release in a stabilized lipophilic prodrug form. Regulation of prodrug release and hydrolysis rates through linker structure modification will open the way to further improve both pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics.