Mutations in leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) are the most frequent known cause of late-onset Parkinson's disease (PD). To explore the therapeutic potential of small molecules targeting the LRRK2 kinase domain, we characterized two LRRK2 kinase inhibitors, TTT-3002 and LRRK2-IN1, for their effects against LRRK2 activity in vitro and in Caenorhabditis elegans models of LRRK2-linked neurodegeneration. TTT-3002 and LRRK2-IN1 potently inhibited in vitro kinase activity of LRRK2 wild-type and mutant proteins, attenuated phosphorylation of cellular LRRK2 and rescued neurotoxicity of mutant LRRK2 in transfected cells. To establish whether LRRK2 kinase inhibitors can mitigate pathogenesis caused by different mutations including G2019S and R1441C located within and outside of the LRRK2 kinase domain, respectively, we evaluated effects of TTT-3002 and LRRK2-IN1 against R1441C- and G2019S-induced neurodegeneration in C. elegans models. TTT-3002 and LRRK2-IN1 rescued the behavioral deficit characteristic of dopaminergic impairment in transgenic C. elegans expressing human R1441C- and G2019S-LRRK2. The inhibitors displayed nanomolar to low micromolar rescue potency when administered either pre-symptomatically or post-symptomatically, indicating both prevention and reversal of the dopaminergic deficit. The same treatments also led to long-lasting prevention and rescue of neurodegeneration. In contrast, TTT-3002 and LRRK2-IN1 were ineffective against the neurodegenerative phenotype in transgenic worms carrying the inhibitor-resistant A2016T mutation ofLRRK2, suggesting that they elicit neuroprotective effects in vivo by targeting LRRK2 specifically. Our findings indicate that the LRRK2 kinase activity is critical for neurodegeneration caused by R1441C and G2019S mutations, suggesting that kinase inhibition of LRRK2 may represent a promising therapeutic strategy for PD. © The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.