A series of novel benzimidazole derivatives were designed, synthesized, and evaluated for their activities against four kinds of enteroviruses, that is, Coxsackie virus A16, B3, B6 and Enterovirus 71 in VERO cells. Strong activities against enterovirus replication and low cytotoxicities were observed in these benzimidazoles generally. The most promising compound was (L)-2-(pyridin-2-yl)-N-(2-(4-nitrophenyl)pentan-3-yl)-1H-benzimidazole-4-carboxamide (16), with a high antiviral potency (IC50 = 1.76 mu g/mL) and a remarkable selectivity index (328). These compounds were selected for further evaluation as novel enterovirus inhibitors. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.