Inhibition of the invasiveness of MO4 mouse fibrosarcoma cells by the vinca alkaloid, vinblastine (VLB), vincristine (VCR) and vindesine (VDS), has been examined in vitro. At doses between 0.006 microgram/ml (minimal effect) and 0.1 microgram/ml (complete inhibition) these drugs interfered with the invasion of MO4 cells from an aggregate confronting a fragment of embryonic chick heart in three-dimensional culture. We have also examined the effect of these drugs on the following activities of MO4 cells: growth, directional migration and assembly of the cytoplasmic microtubule complex. Growth and directional migration were affected by the same doses of vinca alkaloids as invasion. In contrast with the vinca alkaloids, 5-fluorouracil at 1 microgram/ml inhibited growth but allowed directional migration and invasion. At a dose of 0.3 microgram/ml VLB, VCR and VDS interfered with the assembly of cytoplasmic microtubules, as visible after immunocytochemical staining with tubulin antiserum. Ultrastructural analysis demonstrated that inhibition of invasion in three-dimensional culture corresponds with abolishment of the cytoplasmic microtubule complex. Anti-invasive concentrations of VLB, VCR and VDS represent clinically achievable plasma concentrations. We concluded that the anti-invasive effect of the vinca alkaloids may contribute to their antitumor activity.