A series of substituted 2,3-dihydrothiazolo[2,3-a]isoindol-5(9bH)-ones and related compounds 1-73 were synthesized and evaluated for their ability to inhibit reverse transcriptase (RT) of the human immune deficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) and replication of HIV-1 in MT2 cells. The antiviral activity of these compounds depends on the stereoselective configuration of the substituent in position 9b. Structure-activity studies were done within these series of compounds to determine the optimum substituents for antiviral activity. The most potent inhibitors were found in the class of 2,3-dihydrothiazolo[2,3-a]isoindol-5(9bH)-ones bearing a phenyl ring system in position 9b optionally substituted with one or two methyl groups or a chlorine atom in position 8. The most active analogues (R)-(+)-1, (R)-(+)-6, (R)-(+)-13, (R)-(+)-26, and (R)-(+)-53 inhibit the HIV-1 RT with an IC50 between 16 and 300 nM and an IC50 between 10 and 392 nM in MT2 cells, respectively.