Protein arginine methyltransferase 1 (PRMT1) is involved in many biological activities, such as gene transcription, signal transduction, and RNA processing. Overexpression of PRMT1 is related to cardiovascular diseases, kidney diseases, and cancers; therefore, selective PRMT1 inhibitors serve as chemical probes to investigate the biological function of PRMT1 and drug candidates for disease treatment. Our previous work found trimethine cyanine compounds that effectively inhibit PRMT1 activity. In our present study, we systematically investigated the structure-activity relationship of cyanine structures. A pentamethine compound, E-84 (compound 50), showed inhibition on PRMT1 at the micromolar level and 6- to 25-fold selectivity over CARM1, PRMT5, and PRMT8. The cellular activity suggests that compound 50 permeated the cellular membrane, inhibited cellular PRMT1 activity, and blocked leukemia cell proliferation. Additionally, our molecular docking study suggested compound 50 might act by occupying the cofactor binding site, which provided a roadmap to guide further optimization of this lead compound.