Many of aspirin's therapeutic effects arise from its acetylation of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), whereas its antithrombotic and ulcerogenic effects result from its acetylation of COX-1. Here, aspirin-like molecules were designed that preferentially acetylate and irreversibly inactivate COX-2. The most potent of these compounds was o-(acetoxy-phenyl)hept-2-ynyl sulfide (APHS). Relative to aspirin, APHS was 60 times as reactive against COX-2 and 100 times as selective for its inhibition; it also inhibited COX-2 in cultured macrophages and colon cancer cells and in the rat air pouch in vivo. Such compounds may lead to the development of aspirin-like drugs for the treatment or prevention of immunological and proliferative diseases without gastrointestinal or hematologic side effects.