An efficient and regioselective synthetic route to naphthoquinone/naphthoquinol-carbohydrate hybrids has been developed. It is based upon anionic annulation of 3-nucleofugalphthalides with an acrylate appended sugar moiety. In each of the annulations studied, the arene-carbohydrate hybrids were obtained in good to excellent yields. The in vitro cytotoxic activity of the synthetic naphthoquinone/naphthonol-carbohydrate hybrids were evaluated against the human cervical cancer cell line (HeLa), and a few of them were found to exhibit potent anticancer activity against the cell line. © The Royal Society of Chemistry.