Nonenzymatic protein glycation (Maillard reaction) leads to heterogeneous, toxic, and antigenic advanced glycation end products ("AGEs") and reactive precursors that have been implicated in the pathogenesis of diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and normal aging. In vitro inhibition studies of AGE formation in the presence of high sugar concentrations are difficult to interpret, since AGE-forming intermediates may oxidatively arise from free sugar or from Schiff base condensation products with protein amino groups, rather than from just their classical Amadori rearrangement products. We recently succeeded in isolating an Amadori intermediate in the reaction of ribonuclease A (RNase) with ribose (Khalifah, R. G., Todd, P., Booth, A. A., Yang, S. X., Mott, J. D., and Hudson, B. G. (1996) Biochemistry 35, 4645-4654) for rapid studies of post-Amadori AGE formation in absence of free sugar or reversibly formed Schiff base precursors to Amadori products. This provides a new strategy for a better understanding of the mechanism of AGE inhibition by established inhibitors, such as aminoguanidine, and for searching for novel inhibitors specifically acting on post-Amadori pathways of AGE formation. Aminoguanidine shows little inhibition of post-Amadori AGE formation in RNase and bovine serum albumin, in contrast to its apparently effective inhibition of initial (although not late) stages of glycation in the presence of high concentrations of sugar. Of several derivatives of vitamins B1 and B6 recently studied for possible AGE inhibition in the presence of glucose (Booth, A. A., Khalifah, R. G., and Hudson, B. G. (1996) Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 220, 113-119), pyridoxamine and, to a lesser extent, thiamine pyrophosphate proved to be novel and effective post-Amadori inhibitors that decrease the final levels of AGEs formed. Our mechanism-based approach to the study of AGE inhibition appears promising for the design and discovery of novel post-Amadori AGE inhibitors of therapeutic potential that may complement others, such as aminoguanidine, known to either prevent initial sugar attachment or to scavenge highly reactive dicarbonyl intermediates.