A previous investigation revealed that various 4-aryl-3-arylcarbonyl-1-ethyl-4-piperidinols and related vinylogs were cytotoxic to both murine and human tumour cell lines. In particular, 1a and 2a were identified as useful prototypic molecules. Structural modifications of 1a and 2a were accomplished leading to 1b-e and 2b-d which displayed cytotoxicity towards murine P388 and L1210 leukemic cells as well as human Molt 4/C8 and CEM T-lymphocytes. Among the new compounds, the greatest average potencies against these four cell lines were displayed by 1b and 2b, having approximately one quarter and one half of the potency of the reference drug melphalan, respectively. The synthesis and bioevaluation of three open chain analogues of 1b-d, namely 3a-c, did not reveal unequivocally whether this molecular modification led to increases in cytotoxicity or not. Compounds 2a-d were substantially more active than melphalan using a panel of human tumour cell lines. In addition, several compounds displayed selective toxicity to both colon and leukemic cancer cells. The 4-piperidinol 2d was active in the in vivo hollow fibre assay. This study revealed compounds with greater potency than 1a and 2a and it has confirmed that 1,3,4-trisubstituted-4-piperidinols and related compounds are novel groups of candidate antineoplastic and anticancer agents.