Necroptosis inducers represent a promising potential treatment for drug-resistant cancer. We herein describe the structure modification of E6, which was identified recently as a potent and selective necroptosis inducer. The studies described herein demonstrate for the first time that functionalized biphenyl derivatives possess necroptosis inducer activity. Furthermore, these studies have led to the identification of two promising compounds (5h and 5j) that can be used for further optimization studies as well as mechanism of action investigations. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.