The inhibition of five human carbonic anhydrase (hCA, EC 18.104.22.168) isozymes; the cytosolic hCA I and II, the membrane-bound hCA IV, the mitochondrial hCA V, and the tumor-associated, transmembrane hCA IX, with anions isosteric and isoelectronic with sulfate, nitrate, and carbonate; such as chlorate, perchlorate, bromate, iodate, periodate, silicate, bismuthate, vanadate, molybdate, and wolframate is reported. Apparently, the geometry of the inhibitor (tetrahedral or trigonal) does not influence its binding to the Zn(II) ion of the enzyme active site, but the nature of the central element is the most important factor influencing potency. Isozymes hCA I and II are best inhibited by chlorate, perchlorate, and silicate, together with the anions structurally related to sulfate, sulfamate, and sulfamidate, but sulfate itself is a weak inhibitor (inhibition constant of 74 mM against hCA I and 183 mM against hCA II). Molybdate is a very weak hCA I inhibitor (K(I) of 914 mM) but it interacts with hCA II (K(I) of 27.5mM). Isozyme IV is well inhibited by sulfate (K(I) of 9 mM), sulfamate, and sulfamidate (in the low micromolar range), but not by perchlorate (K(I) of 767 mM). The mitochondrial isozyme V has the lowest affinity for sulfate (K(I) of 680 mM) and carbonate (K(I) of 95 mM) among all the investigated isozymes, suggesting on one hand its possible participation in metabolon(s) with sulfate anion exchanger(s), and on the other hand an evolutionary adaptation to working at higher pH values (around 8.5 in mitochondria) where rather high amounts of carbonate in equilibrium with bicarbonate may be present. Metasilicate, isosteric to carbonate, is also about a 10 times weaker inhibitor of this isozyme as compared to other CAs investigated here (K(I) of 28.2 mM). Surprisingly, the tumor-associated isozyme IX is resistant to sulfate inhibition (K(I) of 154 mM) but has affinity in the low micromolar range for carbonate, sulfamate, and sulfamidate (K(I) in the range of 8.6-9.6 microM). This constitutes another proof that this isozyme best works at acidic pH values present in tumors, being inhibited substantially at higher pH values when more carbonate may be present. Bromate and chlorate are quite weak CA IX inhibitors (K(I) s of 147-274 mM).