Several series of pyridine amides were identified as selective and potent 11beta-HSD1 inhibitors. The most potent inhibitors feature 2,6- or 3,5-disubstitution on the pyridine core. Various linkers (CH(2)SO(2), CH(2)S, CH(2)O, S, O, N, bond) between the distal aryl and central pyridyl groups are tolerated, and lipophilic amide groups are generally favored. On the distal aryl group, a number of substitutions are well tolerated. A crystal structure was obtained for a complex between 11beta-HSD1 and the most potent inhibitor in this series.