We have recently reported that albumin accumulates in solid tumors and serves there as a source of nitrogen and energy. Methotrexate-albumin conjugates [MTX(I)-RSA] derivatized at a molar ratio of 1:1 differ favorably from original MTX in terms of plasma presence and tumor uptake. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of these novel conjugates in a comparative study with low m.w. MTX is Sprague-Dawley rats bearing a Walker-256 carcinoma. The maximum tolerated dose (MTD) for MTX and MTX(I)-RSA was determined (2 mg/kg based on MTX injected on days 1, 3 and 8). The tumor-bearing rats received injections of either the MTD or MTD/2 of MTX, MTX-albumin or mixtures containing the MTD/2 or MTD/4 of both MTX and MTX-albumin. No toxic side effects were observed. Cure rate and tumor growth retardation were slightly better for the conjugate compared with MTX alone in the MTD group (16 complete remissions vs. 14 of 20 rats). The best results were achieved for the combination treatment with MTX and MTX-albumin, with complete remission in all 20 rats. In conclusion, MTX-albumin conjugates show therapeutic activity in vivo without toxic side effects. Additive effects were observed for a combination of MTX-albumin and MTX. These effects might be caused by the much longer tumor exposition time of the conjugate in conjunction with a different route of uptake (pinocytosis for MTX-albumin vs. folate receptors for MTX).