Novel derivatives of the potent human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) reverse transcriptase (RT) inhibitor TSAO-T have been designed, synthesized and tested for their in vitro antiretroviral activity against HIV. These TSAO-T derivatives have been designed as potential bidentate inhibitors of HIV-1 RT, which combine in their structure the functionality of a non-nucleoside RT inhibitor (TSAO-T) and a bivalent ion-chelating moiety (a beta-diketone moiety) linked through an appropriate spacer to the N-3 of thymine of TSAO-T. Some of the new compounds have an anti-HIV-1 activity comparable to that of the parent compound TSAO-T, but display a markedly increased antiviral selectivity. There was a clear relationship between antiviral activity and the length of the spacer group that links the TSAO molecule with the chelating moiety. A shorter spacer invariably resulted in increased antiviral potency. None of the TSAO-T derivatives were endowed with anti-HIV-2 activity.