The design and synthesis of (E)- and (Z)-5'-fluoro-4',5'-didehydro-5'-deoxyadenosine (6 and 13, respectively), a new class of mechanism-based inhibitors of S-adenosyl-L-homocysteine (SAH) hydrolase, is described. A number of analogues of 6 and 13 were synthesized in order to determine the structure-activity relationship necessary for inhibition of the enzyme. Substitution of chlorine for fluorine in 6 (i.e. 44), addition of an extra chlorine to the 5'-vinyl position (i.e. 51 and 52), modification of the 2'-hydroxyl group to the deoxy (34 and 35) and arabino (36 and 37) nucleosides provided competitive inhibitors of SAH hydrolase. Nucleosides 6 and 13, as well as 5'-deoxy-5',5'-difluoroadenosine (14) proved to be time-dependent inhibitors of SAH hydrolase. All three compounds are postulated to inhibit through the potent electrophile derived from oxidation of the 3'-hydroxyl of 6 or 13 to the ketone (i.e. 3 and/or the E-isomer). Consistent with the proposed mechanism of inactivation of SAH hydrolase by 6, 13, and 14 was the observation that incubation of purified rat liver SAH hydrolase with 6 resulted in release of 1 equiv of fluoride ion (by 19F NMR) and incubation with 14 resulted in release of 2 equiv of fluoride ion. The general synthetic route developed for the synthesis of the title nucleosides utilized the fluoro Pummerer reaction for the introduction of fluorine into the requisite precursors. Preliminary antiretroviral data from Moloney leukemia virus (MoLV) is presented and correlates with SAH hydrolase inhibition. Antiviral activity (IC50 against MoLV) ranged from 0.05 to 10 micrograms/mL.