A chiral second-generation organoruthenium half-sandwich compound is disclosed that shows a remarkable selectivity and cellular potency for the inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK-3). The selectivity was evaluated against a panel of 57 protein kinases, in which no other kinase was inhibited to the same extent, with a selectivity window of at least tenfold to more than 1000-fold at 100 microM ATP. Furthermore, a comparison with organic GSK-3 inhibitors demonstrated the superior cellular activity of this ruthenium compound: wnt signaling was fully induced at concentrations down to 30 nM. For comparison, the well-established organic GSK-3 inhibitors 6-bromoindirubin-3'-oxime (BIO) and kenpaullone activate the wnt pathway at concentrations that are higher by around 30-fold and 100-fold, respectively. The treatment of zebrafish embryos with the organometallic inhibitor resulted in a phenotype that is typical for the inhibition of GSK-3. No phenotypic change was observed with the mirror-imaged ruthenium complex. The latter does not, in fact, show any of the pharmacological properties for the inhibition of GSK-3. Overall, these results demonstrate the potential usefulness of organometallic compounds as molecular probes in cultured cells and whole organisms.