Structural analogues of benzamide (BA) containing a sulfur atom were tested for their ability to inhibit the enzyme poly(ADP-ribose)transferase (ADPRT) in cultured Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells. These compounds were benzene sulfonamide (BSA), thiobenzamide (TB) and 3-thiophene carboxamide (TCA) and their activity was compared with that of benzamide in a number of experimental systems. Results have shown that substitution of the carboxamide function with a sulfonamide group produces an almost complete loss of the enzyme inhibiting activity. Also inactive was TB which however was found to display inhibition of the DNA damaging effect of hydrogen peroxide, thus suggesting a hydroxyl radical scavenging effect of TB. TCA, an isostere of BA, produced some inhibition of ADPRT, although its activity was markedly lower than that of the parental drug. Therefore, these results indicate that: 1) ADPRT inhibiting activity is inverse function of dipole moments, hydrogen bonding strength and steric hindrance of the amide functional group and 2) substitution of benzene with thiophene results in a substantial reduction of the enzyme inhibiting activity.