Sulfated polysaccharides can act not only as anticoagulants but also as tumour inhibitors. Recent studies suggest that sulfated polysaccharides could affect tumour cells directly. Sulfated polysaccharides could inhibit the metastasis and proliferation of tumour cells by binding to growth factors and cell adhesion molecules. Moreover, sulfated polysaccharides could inhibit heparanase, which cleaves heparan sulfate chains of heparan sulfate proteoglycans and cause release of growth factors sequestered by heparan sulfate chains. Some sulfated polysaccharides can induce apoptosis and differentiation of tumour cells, but the mechanism is uncertain. In addition, sulfated polysaccharides can enhance the innate and adaptive immune response for tumour cells. Thus, the anti-tumour mechanism of sulfated polysaccharides can be explained, at least partly, through the effects on tumour biology directly.