Sphingomyelin synthase (SMS) has been proved to be a potential drug target for the treatment of atherosclerosis. However, few SMS inhibitors have been reported. In this paper, structure-based virtual screening was performed on hSMS1. SAPA 1a was discovered as a novel SMS1 inhibitor with an IC50 value of 5.2 mu M in enzymatic assay. A series of 2-(4-(N-phenethylsulfamoyl)phenoxy)acetamides (SAPAs) were synthesized and their biological activities toward SMS1 were evaluated. Among them, SAPA 1j was found to be the most potent SMS1 inhibitor with an IC50 value of 2.1 mu M in in vitro assay. The molecular docking studies suggested the interaction modes of SMS1 inhibitors and PC with the active site of SMS1. Site-directed mutagenesis validated the involvement of residues Arg342 and Tyr338 in enzymatic sphingomyelin production. The discovery of SAPA derivatives as a novel class of SMS1 inhibitors would advance the development of more effective SMS1 inhibitors. (c) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.