It has been reported that modified forms of pectin possess anticancer activity. To account for this bioactivity, it has been proposed that fragments of pectin molecules can act by binding to and inhibiting the various roles of the mammalian protein galectin 3 (Gal3) in cancer progression and metastasis. Despite this clear molecular hypothesis and evidence for the bioactivity of modified pectin, the structural origins of the "bioactive fragments" of pectin molecules are currently ill defined. By using a combination of fluorescence microscopy, flow cytometry, and force spectroscopy, it has been possible to demonstrate, for the first time, specific binding of a pectin galactan to the recombinant form of human Gal3. Present studies suggest that bioactivity resides in the neutral sugar side chains of pectin polysaccharides and that these components could be isolated and modified to optimize bioactivity.