Structurally-related, but non-polyglutamylatable, derivatives of 10-CF3CO-DDACTHF (1), which incorporate L-glutamine (2) and L-isoglutamine (3) in place of L-glutamate, were prepared and evaluated as inhibitors of recombinant human (rh) GAR Tfase. While the L-glutamate alpha-carboxamide derivative 3 was much less effective as a rhGAR Tfase inhibitor (K(i) = 4.8 microM) and inactive in cellular functional assays, the gamma-carboxamide derivative 2 was found to be a potent and selective rhGAR Tfase inhibitor (K(i) = 0.056 microM) being only 4-fold less potent than 1 (K(i) = 0.015 microM). Moreover, 2 was effective in cellular functional assays exhibiting purine sensitive cytotoxic activity (IC50 = 300 nM, CCRF-CEM) only 20-fold less potent than 1 (IC50 = 16 nM), consistent with inhibition of de novo purine biosynthesis via selective inhibition of GAR Tfase. Like 1, 2 is transported into the cell by the reduced folate carrier. Unlike 1, the functional activity of 2 is not dependent upon FPGS polyglutamylation.