Three flavonols, 5,3'-dihydroxy-3,6,7,8,4'-pentamethoxyflavone , 5,4'-dihydroxy-3,6,7,8,3'-pentamethoxyflavone , and quercetin 3-O-beta-D-glucopyranosyl-7-O-alpha-L-rhamnopyranoside , were isolated from Polanisia dodecandra. Compound 1 showed remarkable cytotoxicity in vitro against panels of central nervous system cancer (SF-268, SF-539, SNB-75, U-251), non-small cell lung cancer (HOP-62, NCI-H266, NCI-H460, NCI-H522), small cell lung cancer (DMS-114), ovarian cancer (OVCAR-3, SK-OV-3), colon cancer (HCT-116), renal cancer (UO-31), a melanoma cell line (SK-MEL-5), and two leukemia cell lines (HL-60 [TB], SR), with GI50 values in the low micromolar to nanomolar concentration range. This substance also inhibited rubulin polymerization (IC50 = 0.83 +/- 0.2 microM) and the binding of radiolabeled colchicine to tubulin with 59% inhibition when present in equimolar concentrations with colchicine. Compound 2 also showed cytotoxicity against medulloblastoma (TE-671) tumor cells with an ED50 value of 0.98 microgram/ml. Compound 1 appears to be the first example of a flavonol to exhibit potent inhibition of tubulin polymerization and, therefore, warrants further investigation as an antimitotic agent.