COMPARE computer program suggested that benzamide riboside, BR, 3-(1-deoxy-beta-D-ribofuranosyl)benzamide, should have a similar mechanism of action as that of tiazofurin, an inhibitor of IMP dehydrogenase (IMPDH). This hypothesis was tested in K562 cells in culture. BR was cytotoxic to K562 cells with an IC50 of 2 microM. Incubation of K562 cells with BR resulted in a significant decrease in GMP and GTP levels with a concurrent increase in IMP pools, and with a significant inhibition of IMPDH activity. However, 290-fold higher BR concentration was needed to demonstrate in vitro inhibition of IMPDH activity, suggesting that the agent may require metabolism to exert its action. These results provide evidence that BR is a new inhibitor of IMPDH. This investigation should be helpful to design new analogues having activity against IMPDH.