Most traditional cytotoxic anticancer agents ablate the rapidly dividing epithelium of the hair follicle and induce alopecia (hair loss). Inhibition of cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2), a positive regulator of eukaryotic cell cycle progression, may represent a therapeutic strategy for prevention of chemotherapy-induced alopecia (CIA) by arresting the cell cycle and reducing the sensitivity of the epithelium to many cell cycle-active antitumor agents. Potent small-molecule inhibitors of CDK2 were developed using structure-based methods. Topical application of these compounds in a neonatal rat model of CIA reduced hair loss at the site of application in 33 to 50% of the animals. Thus, inhibition of CDK2 represents a potentially useful approach for the prevention of CIA in cancer patients.