A series of nonsteroidal ligands were synthesized as second-generation agonists for the androgen receptor (AR). These ligands were designed to eliminate metabolic sites identified in one of our first-generation AR agonists, which was inactive in vivo due to its rapid metabolism to inactive constituents. The binding affinity of these compounds was evaluated using AR isolated from rat ventral prostate. These second-generation compounds bound the AR in a high affinity and stereoselective manner, with K(i) values ranging from about 4 to 130 nM. The ability of these ligands to stimulate AR-mediated transcriptional activation was examined in cells transfected with the human AR and a hormone-dependent luciferase reporter gene. Although some compounds were unable to stimulate AR-mediated transcription, several demonstrated activity similar to that of dihydrotestosterone (DHT, an endogenous steroidal ligand for the AR). We also evaluated the in vivo pharmacologic activity of selected compounds in castrated male rats. Three compounds were identified as selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs), exhibiting significant anabolic activity while having only moderate to minimal androgenic activity in vivo.