The novel chelators 2-acetylpyridine-4,4-dimethyl-3-thiosemicarbazone (HAp44mT) and di-2-pyridylketone-4,4-dimethyl-3-thiosemicarbazone (HDp44mT) have been examined to elucidate the structure-activity relationships necessary to form copper (Cu) complexes with pronounced antitumor activity. Electrochemical studies demonstrated that the Cu complexes of these ligands had lower redox potentials than their iron complexes. Moreover, the Cu complexes where the ligand/metal ratio was 1:1 rather than 2:1 had significantly higher intracellular oxidative properties and antitumor efficacy. Interestingly, the 2:1 complex was shown to dissociate to give significant amounts of the 1:1 complex that could be the major cytotoxic effector. Both types of Cu complex showed significantly more antiproliferative activity than the ligand alone. We also demonstrate the importance of the inductive effects of substituents on the carbonyl group of the parent ketone, which influence the Cu(II/I) redox potentials because of their proximity to the metal center. The structure-activity relationships described are important for the design of potent thiosemicarbazone Cu complexes.