A method is described for the NMR-based screening for the discovery of aminoglycoside mimetics that bind to Escherichia coli A-site RNA. Although aminoglycosides are clinically useful, they exhibit high nephrotoxicity and ototoxicity, and their overuse has led to the development of resistance to important microbial pathogens. To identify a new series of aminoglycoside mimetics that could potentially overcome the problems associated with toxicities and resistance development observed with the aminoglycosides, we have prepared large quantities of E. coli 16 S A-site RNA and conducted an NMR-based screening of our compound library in search for small-molecule RNA binders against this RNA target. From these studies, several classes of compounds were identified as initial hits with binding affinities in the range of 70 microM to 3 mM. Lead optimization through synthetic modifications of these initial hits led to the discovery of several small-molecule aminoglycoside mimetics that are structurally very different from the known aminoglycosides. Structural models of the A-site RNA/ligand complexes were prepared and compared to the three-dimensional structures of the RNA/aminoglycoside complexes.