The antineoplastic drug maytansine inhibits the binding of exogenously added radiolabeled GDP and GTP to tubulin (50% inhibition at 9-10 microM drug at 0 degrees). Vinblastine was 1/10-th as inhibitory. Neither maytansine nor vinblastine displaced GDP from tubulin, and both drugs virtually eliminated dissociation of radiolabeled GDP from the exchangeable site. Maytansine also inhibits binding of nucleotides to a vacant exchangeable site. Maytansine thus prevents nucleotide exit and entry at the exchangeable site because of a direct physical obstruction or a conformational change in the tubulin molecule.