4′-Thiothymidine (S-dThd) is a potent inhibitor of L1210 cell growth and is active against P388 leukemia in mice. Because of these activities and its novel structure, we have begun studies of its metabolism and metabolic actions in L1210 cells in order to understand its mechanism of cytotoxicity. S-dThd inhibited the incorporation of radiolabeled precursors into DNA, but did not inhibit the incorporation of either uridine or leucine into RNA or protein, respectively, which indicated that the mechanism oi its toxicity was due to its inhibition of DNA synthesis. S-dThd did not decrease the concentration of any of the natural deoxynucleoside triphosphates, which indicated that its cytotoxicity was not due to the inhibition of ribonucleotide reductase. S-dThd was readily phosphorylated and used as a substrate for DNA synthesis. Because the rate of incorporation of S-dThd into DNA was 20% that of thymidine, it is likely that the mechanism of action of S-dThd is not due to inhibition of DNA polymerases by the 5′-triphosphate of S-dThd, but instead to its incorporation into the DNA and its subsequent disruption of some function of DNA. © 1995.