Attempts to discover new active ingredients and target sites within the aromatic pathway have resulted in the synthesis of potent enzyme inhibitors, but no herbicides. As an aid in identifying a new target for inhibitor design and screening, we have determined the mode of action of a compound (6-methyl anthranilate) that exhibits noncommercial levels of herbicidal activity. Our evidence suggests that 6-methyl anthranilate is converted in vivo, by traversing the tryptophan biosynthetic sequence, to 4-methyl tryptophan, which inhibits anthranilate synthase. Inhibitors synthesized by design and those found by target-based screening converged on analogs of tryptophan and anthranilate. None, however, was more herbicidal than 6-methyl anthranilate.