The identification and characterisation of the isoenzyme cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) stimulated investigations to develop efficient nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs with reduced side effects compared to standard NSAIDs. This review will focus on the structural features needed to achieve COX-2 selectivity. Five structural classes can be identified together with a class bearing little or no resemblance to one another in their molecular structure. The most interesting point is the very distinct structure/activity relationship. On the one hand only minor modifications to a particular compound induce a drastic change in its COX selectivity and on the other hand the structural prerequisites in terms of molecular shape, lipophilicity, electron density, flexibility, polarity and H-bonding dynamics allow a wide range of diversity.