Bioisosteric replacement studies led to the identification of N-(1-benzo[1,3]dioxol-5-yl-ethyl)-3-(2-chloro-phenyl)-acrylamide ((S)-3) as a highly potent KCNQ2 opener, and 3-(2,6-difluoro-phenyl)-N-[1-(2,3-dihydro-benzofuran-5-yl)-ethyl]-acrylamide ((S)-4), and N-[1-(2,3-dihydro-1H-indol-5-yl)-ethyl]-3-(2-fluoro-phenyl)-acrylamide ((S)-5) as highly efficacious KCNQ2 openers. In contrast, their respective R enantiomers showed significantly less or no appreciable KCNQ2 opener activity even at the highest concentration tested (10 microM). Because of its high potency and moderate efficacy as well as its convenient synthesis, (+/-)-3 was selected as a reference compound for analyzing efficacies of KCNQ openers in electrophysiology studies. Compounds (S)-4 and (S)-5 demonstrated significant activity in reducing neuronal hyperexcitability in rat hippocampal slices. The synthesis and the KCNQ2 opener activity of these acrylamides are described.