The synthesis and characterization of a series of poly(oxanorbornene)-based synthetic mimics of antimicrobial peptides (SMAMPs) is presented. In the first part, the effect of different organic counterions on the antimicrobial properties of the SMAMPs was investigated. Unexpectedly, adding hydrophobicity by complete anion exchange did not increase the SMAMPs' antimicrobial activity. It was found by dye-leakage studies that this was due to the loss of membrane activity of these polymers caused by the formation of tight ion pairs between the organic counterions and the polymer backbone. In the second part, the effect of molecular charge density on the biological properties of a SMAMP was investigated. The results suggest that, above a certain charge threshold, neither minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC90) nor hemolytic activity (HC50) is greatly affected by adding more cationic groups to the molecule. A SMAMP with an MIC90 of 4 microg mL(-1) against Staphylococcus aureus and a selectivity (=HC50/MIC90) of 650 was discovered, the most selective SMAMP to date.