Aldo-keto reductase (AKR) 1C3 (type 2 3alpha-HSD, type 5 17beta-HSD, and prostaglandin F synthase) regulates ligand access to steroid hormone and prostaglandin receptors and may stimulate proliferation of prostate and breast cancer cells. NSAIDs are known inhibitors of AKR1C enzymes. An NSAID analogue that inhibits AKR1C3 but is inactive against the cyclooxygenases and the other AKR1C family members would provide an important tool to examine the role of AKR1C3 in proliferative signaling. We tested NSAIDs and NSAID analogues for inhibition of the reduction of 9,10-phenanthrenequinone (PQ) catalyzed by AKR1C3 and the closely related isoforms AKR1C1 and AKR1C2. Two of the compounds initially screened, indomethacin and its methyl ester, were specific for AKR1C3 versus the other AKR1C isoforms. Based on these results and the crystal structure of AKR1C3, we predicted that N-(4-chlorobenzoyl)-melatonin (CBM), an indomethacin analogue that does not inhibit the cyclooxygenases, would selectively inhibit AKR1C3. CBM inhibited the reduction of PQ by AKR1C3, but did not significantly inhibit AKR1C1 or AKR1C2. Indomethacin and CBM also inhibited the AKR1C3-catalyzed reduction of Delta(4)-androstene-3,17-dione but did not significantly inhibit the reduction of steroid hormones catalyzed by AKR1C1 or AKR1C2. The pattern of inhibition of AKR1C3 by indomethacin and CBM was uncompetitive versus PQ, but competitive versus Delta(4)-androstene-3,17-dione, indicating that two different inhibitory complexes form during the ordered bi bi reactions. The identification of CBM as a specific inhibitor of AKR1C3 will aid the investigation of its roles in steroid hormone and prostaglandin signaling and the resultant effects on cancer development.