Antisense molecules and ribozymes capture the imagination with their promise of rational drug design and exquisite specificity. However, they are far more difficult to produce than was originally anticipated, and their ability to eliminate the function of a single gene has never been proven. Furthermore, a wide variety of unexpected non-antisense effects have come to light. Although some of these side effects will almost certainly have clinical value, they make it hard to produce drugs that act primarily through true antisense mechanisms and complicate the use of antisense compounds as research reagents. To minimize unwanted non-antisense effects, investigators are searching for antisense compounds and ribozymes whose target sites are particularly vulnerable to attack. This is a challenging quest.