A novel class of heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) inhibitors was developed from an unbiased screen to identify protein targets for a diverse compound library. These indol-4-one and indazol-4-one derived 2-aminobenzamides showed strong binding affinity to Hsp90, and optimized analogues exhibited nanomolar antiproliferative activity across multiple cancer cell lines. Heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) induction and specific client protein degradation in cells on treatment with the inhibitors supported Hsp90 inhibition as the mechanism of action. Computational chemistry and X-ray crystallographic analysis of selected member compounds clearly defined the protein-inhibitor interaction and assisted the design of analogues. 4-[6,6-Dimethyl-4-oxo-3-(trifluoromethyl)-4,5,6,7-tetrahydro-1H-indazol-1-yl]-2-[(trans-4-hydroxycyclohexyl)amino]benzamide (SNX-2112, 9) was identified as highly selective and potent (IC(50) Her2 = 11 nM, HT-29 = 3 nM); its prodrug amino-acetic acid 4-[2-carbamoyl-5-(6,6-dimethyl-4-oxo-3-trifluoromethyl-4,5,6,7-tetrahydro-indazol-1-yl)-phenylamino]-cyclohexyl ester methanesulfonate (SNX-5422, 10) was orally bioavailable and efficacious in a broad range of xenograft tumor models (e.g. 67% growth delay in a HT-29 model) and is now in multiple phase I clinical trials.