The synthesis and antitumor activities of the novel water soluble camptothecin derivatives 7-[(4-methylpiperazino)methyl]-10,11-(methylenedioxy)-(20S)-campto thecin trifluoroacetate (6) and 7-[(4-methylpiperazino)methyl]-10,11-(ethylenedioxy)-(20S)-camptot hecin trifluoroacetate (7) are described. The solubilities of compounds 6 and 7 were measured to be 4.5 and 5.8 mg/mL, respectively, in pH 5 acetate buffer in contrast to < 0.003 mg/mL for camptothecin in the same buffer. In the purified topoisomerase I cleavable complex enzyme assay, compounds 6 and 7 demonstrated potent inhibition of topoisomerase I with IC50's of 300 and 416 nM, respectively, in comparison to 679 nM for camptothecin and 1028 nM for topotecan. In human tumor cell cytotoxicity assays, compounds 6 and 7 demonstrated potent antitumor activity against ovarian (SKOV3), ovarian with upregulated MDRp-glycoprotein (SKVLB), melanoma (LOX), breast (T47D), and colon (HT29) with IC50's ranging from 0.5 to 102 nM. Compounds 6 and 7 induced tumor regressions in the HT29 human colon tumor xenograft model and demonstrated similar rank order of potency compared to in vitro assay results.