A novel polymer–drug conjugate, polyethylene glycol–N-(acetyl)-glucosamine–doxorubicin (PEG-NAG-DOX) was evaluated in this study for its in vivo potential for treatment of tumours demonstrating improved efficacy and reduced toxicity. The proposed polymer–drug conjugate comprised of polyethylene glycol–maleimide (mPEG-MAL, 30000 Da) as a carrier, doxorubicin (DOX) as an anticancer drug and N-acetyl glucosamine (NAG) as a targeting moiety as well as penetration enhancer. Doxorubicin has a potent and promising anticancer activity; however, severe cardiotoxicity limits its application in cancer treatment. By modifying DOX in PEG-NAG-DOX prodrug conjugate, we aimed to eliminate this limitation. In vivo anticancer efficacy of the conjugate was evaluated using BDF mice-induced skin melanoma model by i.v. administration of DOX conjugates. Anticancer efficacy studies were done by comparing tumour volume, body weight, organ index and percent survival rate of the animals. Tumour suppression achieved by PEG-NAG-DOX at the cumulative dose of 7.5 mg/kg was two-fold better than that achieved by DOX solution. Also, the survival rate for PEG-NAG-DOX conjugate was >70% as compared to <50% survival rate for DOX solution. In addition, toxicity studies and histopathological studies revealed that while maintaining its cytotoxicity towards tumour cells, PEG-NAG-DOX conjugate showed no toxicities to major organs. Therefore, PEG-NAG-DOX conjugate can be suggested as a desirable candidate for targeted cancer therapy.