7-Phenyl-1,4,6-androstatriene-3,17-dione (4), 7-benzyl-1,4,6-androstatriene-3,17-dione (5) and 7-phenethyl-1,4,6-androstatriene-3,17-dione (6) were synthesized and evaluated in vitro in human placental microsomes as enzyme-activated irreversible inhibitors of aromatase. The compounds were synthesized from appropriate 7-substituted 4,6-androstadiene-3,17-diones by reaction with DDQ under neutral conditions. All the compounds produced a first order inactivation of aromatase in the presence of NADPH but not in the absence of NADPH. Substrate 4-androstene-3,17-dione protected the enzyme from inactivation by the inhibitors. Furthermore, cysteine failed to protect aromatase from inactivation by compounds 5 and 6. In contrast, cysteine partially protected aromatase from inactivation by compound 4. Irreversibility studies illustrated the covalent nature of the inactivation by 4, 5 and 6. The above experimental evidence demonstrated that compounds 5 and 6 are effective enzyme-activated irreversible inhibitors of aromatase.