Potent tetrapeptidic inhibitors of the HCV NS3 protease have been developed incorporating 4-hydroxy-cyclopent-2-ene-1,2-dicarboxylic acid as a new N-acyl-l-hydroxyproline mimic. The hydroxycyclopentene template was synthesized in eight steps from commercially available (syn)-tetrahydrophthalic anhydride. Three different amino acids were explored in the P1-position and in the P2-position the hydroxyl group of the cyclopentene template was substituted with 7-methoxy-2-phenyl-quinolin-4-ol. The P3/P4-positions were then optimized from a set of six amino acid derivatives. All inhibitors were evaluated in an in vitro assay using the full-length NS3 protease. Several potent inhibitors were identified, the most promising exhibiting a K(i) value of 1.1nM.