BACKGROUND: Treatment of schistosomiasis, a neglected disease, relies on just one partially effective drug, praziquantel. We revisited the 9-acridanone hydrazone, Ro 15-5458, a largely forgotten antischistosomal lead compound. METHODS: Ro 15-5458 was evaluated in juvenile and adult Schistosoma mansoni-infected mice. We studied dose-response, hepatic shift and stage specificity. The metabolic stability of Ro 15-5458 was measured in the presence of human and mouse liver microsomes, and human hepatocytes; the latter also served to identify metabolites. Pharmacokinetic parameters were measured in naive mice. The efficacy of Ro 15-5458 was also assessed in S. haematobium-infected hamsters and S. japonicum-infected mice. RESULTS: Ro 15-5458 had single-dose ED50 values of 15 and 5.3 mg/kg in mice harbouring juvenile and adult S. mansoni infections, respectively. An ED50 value of 17 mg/kg was measured in S. haematobium-infected hamsters; however, the compound was inactive at up to 100 mg/kg in S. japonicum-infected mice. The drug-induced hepatic shift occurred between 48 and 66 h post treatment. A single oral dose of 50 mg/kg of Ro 15-5458 had high activity against all tested S. mansoni stages (1-, 7-, 14-, 21- and 49-day-old). In vitro, human hepatocytes produced N-desethyl and glucuronide metabolites; otherwise Ro 15-5458 was metabolically stable in the presence of microsomes or whole hepatocytes. The maximum plasma concentration was approximately 8.13 μg/mL 3 h after a 50 mg/kg oral dose and the half-life was approximately 4.9 h. CONCLUSIONS: Ro 15-5458 has high activity against S. mansoni and S. haematobium, yet lacks activity against S. japonicum, which is striking. This will require further investigation, as a broad-spectrum antischistosomal drug is desirable.