Inhibitors of the Hsp90 molecular chaperone are showing considerable promise as potential chemotherapeutic agents for cancer. Here, we describe the structure-based design, synthesis, structure-activity relationships and pharmacokinetics of potent small-molecule inhibitors of Hsp90 based on the 4,5-diarylisoxazole scaffold. Analogues from this series have high affinity for Hsp90, as measured in a fluorescence polarization (FP) competitive binding assay, and are active in cancer cell lines where they inhibit proliferation and exhibit a characteristic profile of depletion of oncogenic proteins and concomitant elevation of Hsp72. Compound 40f (VER-52296/NVP-AUY922) is potent in the Hsp90 FP binding assay (IC50 = 21 nM) and inhibits proliferation of various human cancer cell lines in vitro, with GI50 averaging 9 nM. Compound 40f is retained in tumors in vivo when administered i.p., as evaluated by cassette dosing in tumor-bearing mice. In a human colon cancer xenograft model, 40f inhibits tumor growth by approximately 50%.