Amyloid plaques in brain, composed of aggregates of amyloid-beta peptide, play a central role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease and represent a good target for treatment. We have shown previously that a 5-amino acid beta-sheet breaker peptide (iAbeta5p), end-protected, has the ability to induce a dramatic reduction in amyloid deposition in two different transgenic Alzheimer's models (Permanne, B., Adessi, C., Saborio, G. P., Fraga, S., Frossard, M.-J., Dewachter, I., Van Dorpe, J., Banks, W. A., Van Leuven, F., and Soto, C. (2002) FASEB J. 16, 860 - 862). The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of chemical modifications of the peptide bonds at the metabolite cleavage sites on the pharmacological properties of iAbeta5p derivatives. Using a rational approach, peptide analogs were designed and tested for in vitro activity and enzymatic stability. One peptide analog containing a methyl group introduced at the nitrogen atom of one amide bond showed increased stability in vitro, a 10-fold higher in vivo half-life, and good brain uptake compared with iAbeta5p while maintaining a similar activity in vitro. Our results suggest that the pharmacological profile of beta-sheet breaker peptides can be improved to produce compounds with drug-like properties that might offer a new promise in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.