This report describes the isolation and partial purification of novel triterpenoid saponins [Fraction 35 (F035)] and two pure biologically active derivatives (termed avicins D and G) from Acacia victoriae, an Australian desert tree of the Leguminosae family. F035 and the avicins markedly inhibited the growth of several tumor cell lines with minimum growth inhibition in human foreskin fibroblasts, mouse fibroblasts, and immortalized breast epithelial cells at similar concentrations. F035 and the avicins induced cell cycle (G1) arrest of the human MDA-MB-453 breast cancer cell line and apoptosis of the Jurkat (T-cell leukemia) and the MDA-MB-435 breast cancer cell line. The triterpenoid saponins also partially inhibited phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase activity in Jurkat T cells in a time-dependent manner and phosphorylation in the downstream protein Akt, whereas no affect was seen on the Ras/mitogen-activated protein kinase cascade. These observations as well as other work from our laboratory demonstrating mitochondrial perturbation, chemoprevention, and inhibition of nuclear factor kappaB suggest that triterpenoid saponins from A. victoriae have potential as novel anticancer agents. Recent work linking Akt signaling with glucose metabolism, stress resistance, and longevity suggests other potential applications of these compounds.