Alpha-tocopheryl succinate (alpha-TOS), a redox-inactive analogue of vitamin E, is a strong inducer of apoptosis, whereas alpha-tocopherol (alpha-TOH) lacks apoptogenic activity (J. Neuzil et al., FASEB J., 15: 403-415, 2001). Here we investigated the possible antineoplastic activities of alpha-TOH and alpha-TOS and further explored the potential of alpha-TOS as an antitumor agent. Using nude mice with colon cancer xenografts, we found that alpha-TOH exerted modest antitumor activity and acted by inhibiting tumor cell proliferation. In contrast, alpha-TOS showed a more profound antitumor effect, at both the level of inhibition of proliferation and induction of tumor cell apoptosis. alpha-TOS was nontoxic to normal cells and tissues, triggered apoptosis in p53(-/-) and p21(Waf1/Cip1(-/-)) cancer cells, and exerted a cooperative proapoptotic activity with tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (Apo2 ligand) due to differences in proapoptotic signaling. Finally, alpha-TOS cooperated with tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand in suppression of tumor growth in vivo. Vitamin E succinate is thus a potent and highly specific anticancer agent and/or adjuvant of considerable therapeutic potential.