Structural features of three regions of the capsaicin molecule necessary for agonist properties were delineated by a previously reported modular approach. These in vitro agonist effects were shown to correlate with analgesic potency in rodent models. Combination of optimal structural features from each of these regions of the capsaicin molecule have led to highly potent agonists (e.g., 1b). Evaluation in vivo established that lb had analgesic properties but poor oral activity, short duration of action, and excitatory side effects which precluded further development of this compound. Preliminary metabolism studies had shown that the phenol moiety of lb was rapidly glucuronidated in vivo, providing a possible explanation for the poor pharmacokinetic profile. Subsequent specific modification of the phenol group led to compounds 2a-j, which retained in vitro potency. The in vivo profiles of two representatives of this series, 2a,h, were much improved over the 'parent' phenol series, and they are candidates for development as analgesic agents.