Dyrk1A (dual-specificity tyrosine-(Y)-phosphorylation-regulated kinase 1A) is a serine/threonine kinase essential for brain development and function, and its excessive activity is considered a pathogenic factor in Down syndrome. The development of potent, selective inhibitors of Dyrk1A would help to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of normal and diseased brains, and may provide a new lead compound for molecular-targeted drug discovery. Here, we report a novel Dyrk1A inhibitor, INDY, a benzothiazole derivative showing a potent ATP-competitive inhibitory effect with IC(50) and K(i) values of 0.24 and 0.18 μM, respectively. X-ray crystallography of the Dyrk1A/INDY complex revealed the binding of INDY in the ATP pocket of the enzyme. INDY effectively reversed the aberrant tau-phosphorylation and rescued the repressed NFAT (nuclear factor of activated T cell) signalling induced by Dyrk1A overexpression. Importantly, proINDY, a prodrug of INDY, effectively recovered Xenopus embryos from head malformation induced by Dyrk1A overexpression, resulting in normally developed embryos and demonstrating the utility of proINDY in vivo.