4-Nerolidylcatechol (1) was isolated from cultivated Pothomorphe peltata root on a multigram scale using straight-forward solvent extraction-column chromatography. New semi-synthetic derivatives of 1 were prepared and tested in vitro against multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum K1 strain. Mono-O-methyl, mono-O-benzyl, O,O-dibenzyl and O,O-dibenzoyl derivatives 2-8 exhibited IC(50) in the 0.67-22.52 microM range. Mono-O-methyl ethers 6 and 7 inhibited the in vitro growth of human tumor cell lines HCT-8 (colon carcinoma), SF-295 (central nervous system), LH-60 (human myeloblastic leukemia) and MDA/MB-435 (melanoma). In general, derivatives 2-8 are more stable to light, air and pH at ambient temperatures than their labile, natural precursor 1. These derivatives provide leads for the development of a novel class of antimalarial drugs with enhanced chemical and pharmacological properties.