The use of existing antibiotics in the form of prodrug followed by activation using enzymes of pathogenic origin could be a useful approach for antimicrobial therapy. To investigate this idea, a common antibiotic, sulfamethoxazole has been redesigned in the form of a prodrug by simple functional group replacement. Upon reductive activation by a type I nitroreductase from a pathogen, the drug displayed enhanced antimicrobial capacity. This strategy could improve the efficacy and selectively of antibiotics and reduce the incidence of resistance. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.