The synthesis of two novel drugs, 4-[bis[2-(mesyloxy)ethyl]amino]benzoic acid (7) and 4-[(2-chloroethyl)[2-(mesyloxy)ethyl]amino]benzoic acid (8) is described here. They are the active drugs of two prodrugs (9 and 10) designed for use as anti-cancer agents. The prodrugs (9, 10 and 11) were made as a series of compounds which are bifunctional alkylating agents in which the activating effect of the ionized carboxyl function is masked through an amide bond to a glutamic acid residue. These relatively inactive prodrugs were designed to be activated to their corresponding alkylating agent active drugs (7, 8 and 12 respectively) at a tumour site by prior administration of a monoclonal antibody conjugated to a bacterial enzyme. This system is called antibody-directed enzyme prodrug therapy (ADEPT). The chemical half-lives of the prodrugs and their active drugs were measured in order to determine their relative reactivities. The half-lives ranged from 21 to 324 min for the active drugs and from 42 to 1158 min for the prodrugs. The viability of two different tumour cell lines was monitored with each active drug and prodrug. The IC50 values varied from 65 to 625 microM for the active drugs: no IC50 values could be obtained for the prodrugs, using a rapid incubation procedure. Each in vitro technique demonstrated the ability of the glutamic acid moiety to deactivate the drugs, forming effective prodrugs.