The affinity of a large number of sugar-modified derivatives of (E)-5-(2-bromovinyl)-2'-deoxyuridine (BVDU) was determined towards deoxythymidine (dThd) kinases (TK) of various origin, i.e. human cytosol and mitochondrial TK, as well as herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 and type 2 TK. Substitution at the 3'- and 5'-position had differential effects on the interaction of BVDU with TK from different sources. The binding affinity of the nucleoside analogs for these different TKs was also influenced by the nature of the 5-substituent (2-bromovinyl vs 2- chlorovinyl ). The 5'-azido and 5'-amino derivatives of BVDU showed affinity for HSV-1 TK only and may, therefore, be useful to differentiate HSV-1 TK from all other TKs . There was no stringent correlation between the antiviral effects of the compounds and their binding constants for viral TK, suggesting that phosphorylation by viral TK is an essential but not sufficient factor in determining the antiviral activity of these analogs.