The activity of three different classes of bioreductive drug, i.e., heterocyclic nitro compounds, N-oxides and quinones are compared. The major characteristics of RB-6145, tirapazamine and E09 are summarized and future directions for development of new bioreductive drugs are outlined. The concept of potentiating bioreductive drug activity by increasing tumor hypoxia is described and illustrated in particular by the use of photodynamic therapy (PDT) in combination with RSU-1069. Examples of how the therapeutic effectiveness of this approach can be studied by the use of 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy is described. The effects of manipulation of nitric oxide (NO) levels in tumors by the use of modifiers of NO-synthase activity is illustrated by studies with the inhibitor nitro-L-arginine in experimental tumors. Associated changes in tumor physiology indicate promise for potential applications in therapy. Finally, changes in expression of reductase enzyme levels are considered in the context of the heterogenous nature of the tumor microenvironment.