Mcl-1 is a member of the Bcl-2 family of proteins that promotes cell survival by preventing induction of apoptosis in many cancers. High expression of Mcl-1 causes tumorigenesis and resistance to anticancer therapies highlighting the potential of Mcl-1 inhibitors as anticancer drugs. Here, we describe AZD5991, a rationally designed macrocyclic molecule with high selectivity and affinity for Mcl-1 currently in clinical development. Our studies demonstrate that AZD5991 binds directly to Mcl-1 and induces rapid apoptosis in cancer cells, most notably myeloma and acute myeloid leukemia, by activating the Bak-dependent mitochondrial apoptotic pathway. AZD5991 shows potent antitumor activity in vivo with complete tumor regression in several models of multiple myeloma and acute myeloid leukemia after a single tolerated dose as monotherapy or in combination with bortezomib or venetoclax. Based on these promising data, a Phase I clinical trial has been launched for evaluation of AZD5991 in patients with hematological malignancies (NCT03218683).