Screening of a library of chemical compounds showed that the dichloropyridine-based analogue 9 was a novel P2X(7) receptor antagonist. To optimize its activity, we assessed the structure-activity relationships (SAR) of 9, focusing on the hydrazide linker, the dichloropyridine skeleton, and the hydrophobic acyl (R(2)) group. We found that the hydrazide linker and the 3,5-disubstituted chlorides in the pyridine skeleton were critical for P2X(7) antagonistic activity and that the presence of hydrophobic polycycloalkyl groups at the R(2) position optimized antagonistic activity. In the EtBr uptake assay in hP2X(7)-expressing HEK293 cells, the optimized antagonists, 51 and 52, had IC(50) values of 4.9 and 13 nM, respectively. The antagonistic effects of 51 and 52 were paralleled by their ability to inhibit the release of the pro-inflammatory cytokine, IL-1β, by LPS/IFN-γ/BzATP stimulation of THP-1 cells (IC(50) = 1.3 and 9.2 nM, respectively). In addition, 52 strongly inhibited iNOS/COX-2 expression and NO production in THP-1 cells, further indicating that this compound blocks inflammatory signaling and suggesting that the dichloropyridine analogues may be useful in developing P2X(7) receptor targeted anti-inflammatory agents.