The myeloid differentiation antigen CD33 has long been exploited as a target for antibody-based therapeutic approaches in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Validation of this strategy was provided with the approval of the CD33-targeting antibody–drug conjugate (ADC) gemtuzumab ozogamicin in 2000; the clinical utility of this agent, however, has been hampered by safety concerns. Thus, the full potential of CD33-directed therapy in AML remains to be realized, and considerable interest exists in the design and development of more effective ADCs that confer high therapeutic indices and favorable tolerability profiles. Here, we describe the preclinical characterization of a novel CD33-targeting ADC, IMGN779, which utilizes a unique DNA-alkylating payload to achieve potent antitumor effects with good tolerability. The payload, DGN462, is prototypical of a novel class of purpose-created indolinobenzodiazeprine pseudodimers, termed IGNs. With low picomolar potency, IMGN779 reduced viability in a panel of AML cell lines in vitro. Mechanistically, the cytotoxic activity of IMGN779 involved DNA damage, cell-cycle arrest, and apoptosis consistent with the mode of action of DGN462. Moreover, IMGN779 was highly active against patient-derived AML cells, including those with adverse molecular abnormalities, and sensitivity correlated to CD33 expression levels. In vivo, IMGN779 displayed robust antitumor efficacy in multiple AML xenograft and disseminated disease models, as evidenced by durable tumor regressions and prolonged survival. Taken together, these findings identify IMGN779 as a promising new candidate for evaluation as a novel therapeutic in AML.