Utilization of the cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) inhibitor ritonavir as a pharmacoenhancer for anti-HIV drugs revolutionized the treatment of HIV infection. However, owing to ritonavir-related complications, there is a need for development of new CYP3A4 inhibitors with improved pharmacochemical properties, which requires a full understanding of the CYP3A4 inactivation mechanisms and the unraveling of possible inhibitor binding modes. We investigated the mechanism of CYP3A4 interaction with three desoxyritonavir analogs, containing the heme-ligating imidazole, oxazole or pyridine group instead of the thiazole moiety (compounds 1, 2 and 3, respectively). Our data show that compound 3 is superior to ritonavir in terms of binding affinity and inhibitory potency owing to greater flexibility and the ability to adopt a conformation that minimizes steric clashing and optimizes protein-ligand interactions. Additionally, Ser119 was identified as a key residue assisting binding of ritonavir-like inhibitors, which emphasizes the importance of polar interactions in the CYP3A4-ligand association.