This report describes the synthesis and pharmacological evaluation of a series of novel potassium channel openers related to the pinacidil-type compounds. Thioureas, cyanoguanidines, and pyridine N-oxides were systematically evaluated for their effects on both the inhibition of spontaneous mechanical activity in rat portal vein (in vitro) and their antihypertensive activity (in vivo), and the structure-activity relationship for this series of compounds was discussed. Good correlation between in vitro and iv antihypertensive activity was observed for these compounds. Among them, cyanoguanidines bearing a conformationally rigid unit such as a norbornyl group generally possessed potent activity in both in vitro and in vivo studies. Especially, N-(6-amino-3-pyridyl)-N'-cyano-N"-(1-methyl-2-norbornyl)guanidine (23d) was identified as a more potent potassium channel opener in vitro (EC100 = 3 x 10(-8) M) than pinacidil (EC100 = 10(-7) M).