A series of the novel purine and pyrimidine nucleoside analogues were synthesised in which the sugar moiety was replaced by the 4-amino-2-butenyl (2-6 and 10-18) and oxiranyl (8 and 20) spacer. The Z- (2-6) and E-isomers (10-18) of unsaturated acyclic nucleoside analogues were synthesized by condensation of 2- and 6-substituted purine and 5-substituted uracil bases with Z- (1) or E-phthalimide (9) precursors. The oxiranyl nucleoside analogues (8 and 20) were obtained by epoxidation of 1 and 9 with m-chloroperoxybenzoic acid and subsequent coupling with adenine. The new compounds were evaluated for their antiviral and antitumor cell activities. Among the olefinic nucleoside analogues, Z-isomer of adenine containing 4-amino-2-butenyl side chain (6) exhibited the best cytostatic activities, particularly against colon carcinoma (SW 620, IC50 = 26 microM). Its E-isomer 15 did not show any antiproliferative activity against malignant tumor cell lines, except for a slight inhibition of colon carcinoma (SW 620, IC50 = 56.5 microM) cells. In general, Z-isomers showed better cytostatic activities than the corresponding E-isomers. (Z)-4-Amino-2-butenyl-adenine nucleoside analogue 6 showed albeit modest but selective activity against HIV-1 (EC50 = 4.83 microg mL(-1)).