One aspect of cannabinoid structure-activity relationships (SARs) that has not been thoroughly investigated is the aromatic (A) ring. Although halogenation of the side chain enhances potency, our recent observation that iodination of the A ring also enhanced activity was surprising. The purpose of this investigation was to establish the steric and electrostatic requirements at these sites of the cannabinoid molecule via molecular modeling, while determining pharmacological activity. Molecular modeling was performed using the Tripos molecular mechanics force field and the semiempirical quantum mechanical package AM1. The Ki values for novel cannabinoids were determined in a [3H]CP-55,940 binding assay and ED50 values generated from four different evaluations in a mouse model. The present studies underscore the increase in potency produced by a dimethylheptyl (DMH) side chain. Trifluoro substitutions on the pentyl side chain, or bromination of the DMH side chain, had little effect on the pharmacological activity. Any substitution at the C4 position of the aryl ring resulted in a loss of activity, which appears to be due to steric hindrances. Nitro, but not iodo, substitution at the C2 position essentially produces an inactive analog, and the drastic alteration of the electrostatic potential appears to be responsible. The altered pharmacological profile of the 2-iodo analog seems to be related to an alteration in the highest occupied molecular orbital because there is no alteration in the electron density map compared to delta 8-tetrahydrocannibinol.