Doxorubicin is a major anticancer agent introduced to extended clinical use in the early 1970s. The fulfillment of a wide program of analogue synthesis led to the development of the better tolerated epirubicin and of a highly potent antileukemic drug, idarubicin. In recent years, on the basis of the available information on the molecular requirements for action, a new synthetic program, coupled with target-oriented pharmacological experiments, was carried out. Various interesting derivatives, namely, the 8- and 10-fluoro compounds and the disaccharides, were obtained. The latter compounds exhibited a strong dependence of biological activity on the orientation (axial vs. equatorial) of the second sugar moiety, daunosamine. A member of this group, namely, 7-O-(4'-O-alpha-L-daunosaminyl-2'-deoxy-alpha-L-fucosyl)-4-demetho xy-adriamycinone, is presently undergoing clinical trials as a third generation antitumor anthracycline.