The relative potencies of four main types of okadaic acid class compounds as inhibitors of the catalytic subunits of protein serine/threonine phosphatases 1 and 2A and the protein tyrosine phosphatase 1 were determined. These four types of compounds are okadaic acid, calyculin A, microcystin-LR, and tautomycin, which are isolated from different natural sources, a black sponge Halichondria okadai, a marine sponge Discodermia calyx, a blue-green alga Microcystis aeruginosa, and Streptomyces spirover ticillatus, respectively. While okadaic acid was a more effective inhibitor of protein phosphatase 2A (IC50, 0.07 nM) than protein phosphatase 1 (IC50, 3.4 nM), other compounds of the okadaic acid class were equally effective against the two protein serine/threonine phosphatases. The order of potency was microcystin greater than calyculin A greater than tautomycin, and the IC50S ranged from 0.1 to 0.7 nM. None of the okadaic acid class compounds inhibited protein tyrosine phosphatase 1 activity at concentrations up to 0.01 mM. These results indicate that the compounds of the okadaic acid class are selective inhibitors of protein serine/threonine but not tyrosine phosphatases.