A variety of synthetic analogues of taxol, a naturally occurring antitumor diterpene, were examined for their potency to inhibit microtubule disassembly. For some of the compounds, the in vitro cytotoxic properties showed a good correlation with the tubulin assay. This structure-activity relationship study shows that inhibition of microtubule disassembly is quite sensitive to the configuration at C-2' and C-3'. A correlation between the conformation of the side chain at C-13 and the activity is suggested. Of all the compounds examined, one of the most potent in inhibiting microtubule disassembly and in inhibiting murine P388 leukemic cells, N-debenzoyl-N-tert-(butoxycarbonyl)-10-deacetyltaxol, named taxotere, was selected for evaluation as a potential anticancer agent.