Type 2 diabetes mellitus has reached epidemic proportions; therefore, the search for novel antihyperglycemic drugs is intense. We have discovered that D-xylose increases the rate of glucose transport in a non-insulin-dependent manner in rat and human myotubes in vitro. Due to the unfavorable pharmacokinetic properties of D-xylose we aimed at synthesizing active derivatives with improved parameters. Quantitative structure-activity relationship analysis identified critical hydroxyl groups in D-xylose. These data were used to synthesize various hydrophobic derivatives of D-xylose of which compound 19 the was most potent compound in stimulating the rate of hexose transport by increasing the abundance of glucose transporter-4 in the plasma membrane of myotubes. This effect resulted from the activation of AMP-activated protein kinase without recruiting the insulin transduction mechanism. These results show that lipophilic D-xylose derivatives may serve as prototype molecules for the development of novel antihyperglycemic drugs for the treatment of diabetes.