The synthesis, cytotoxic activities and selectivities of 35 derivatives related to quinazoline and pyrido [2,3-d]pyrimidine are described. The synthesized compounds were screened in vitro against four tumoral cell lines leukemia (CCRF-CEM), colon (HT-29), lung (HTB-54) and breast (MCF-7) - and two cell lines derived from non-malignant cell lines, one mammary (18485) and one from bronchial epithelium (BEAS-2B). MCF-7 and HTB-54 were the most sensitive cell lines with GI(50) values below 10 mu M for eleven and ten compounds. respectively. Two compounds (2o and 3a) were identified that evoked a marked cytotoxic effect in all cell lines tested and one compound, 7h, was potent and selective against MCF-7. A preliminary study into the mechanism of the potent derivatives 2o, 3a and 7h indicated that the cytotoxic activities of these compounds might be mediated by inducing cell death without affecting cell cycle phases.