We have employed the attenuated vaccine strain 17D of yellow fever virus (YFV) to evaluate the inhibitory effect of a selected series of compounds on YFV in Vero cells. Use of the vaccine strain does not require high-level microbiological containment facilities and should allow extensive screening. In addition, YFV may serve as a model for other flaviviruses including hepatitis C virus (HCV), and thus strategies for the treatment of YFV infections may apply to flavivirus infections in general. In the present study, several compounds belonging to different classes of nucleoside analogues and polyanions were evaluated for their inhibitory effect on the replication of YFV. Compounds that are targeted at: (i) IMP dehydrogenase (ribavirin, EICAR, tiazofurin, selenazofurin and mycophenolic acid), (ii) OMP decarboxylase (pyrazofurin and 6-azauridine), (iii) CTP synthetase (carbodine and cyclopentenyl cytosine), (iv) dihydrofolate reductase (methotrexate) and the (v) sulfated polymers (dextran sulfate and PAVAS) proved inhibitory to the replication of YFV. Mycophenolic acid (EC50: 0.08 microgram/ml). EICAR (EC50: 0.8 microgram/ml) and methotrexate (EC50: 0.07 microgram/ml) were the most effective. The findings that EICAR and mycophenolic acid, despite their potent anti-YFV activity, had little or no effect on the replication of the bunyavirus Punta Toro or herpes simplex virus in Vero cells, indicates that their anti-YFV activity is rather specific and does not merely result from cytotoxicity. Inhibitors of S-adenosylhomocysteine hydrolase (SAH hydrolase) and thymidylate synthase were found to be devoid of anti-YFV activity.