Unsymmetrical aryl(heteroaryl)methyl isopropyl ester analogues of nifedipine, in which the 2-nitrophenyl group at C-4 is replaced by a 2- or 3-pyridyl substituent, were synthesized and evaluated as calcium-channel antagonists using guinea pig ileal longitudinal smooth muscle. The point of attachment of the C-4 pyridyl substituent was a determinant of activity where the relative potency order was 2-pyridyl greater than 3-pyridyl. Within the C-4 2-pyridyl series of compounds, and electronegative substituent such as a trifluoromethyl or bromo at the 4 position of the benzyl ester substituent or a nitrogen atom at the 1 position of a 4-pyridylmethyl ester substituent, enhanced activity relative to the unsubstituted benzyl ester analogue. In contrast, in the C-4 3-pyridyl class of compounds, a variety of aryl(heteroaryl)methyl ester substituents did not alter potency to any significant extent. A number of compounds in the C-4 2-pyridyl series possessing 4-pyridylmethyl, 4-trifluoromethylbenzyl, 4-bromobenzyl, and 3-pyridylmethyl ester substituents were approximately equipotent to nifedipine. The aryl(heteroaryl)methyl ester and C-4 2-pyridyl substituents therefore appear to provide important interdependent contributions to calcium-channel antagonist activity.