The toxic pyroglutamate form of amyloid-β (pE-Aβ) is important for the pathogenesis of early Alzheimer's disease (AD); therefore, reducing pE-Aβ by inhibiting glutaminyl cyclase (QC) provides a promising strategy for developing disease-modifying AD drugs. In this study, potent and selective QC inhibitors with desirable drug-like properties were discovered by replacing the 3,4-dimethoxyphenyl group in a QC inhibitor with a bioisosteric indazole surrogate. Among them, 3-methylindazole-6-yl and 3-methylindazole-5-yl derivatives with an N-cyclohexylurea were identified as highly potent inhibitors with IC50 values of 3.2 nM and 2.3 nM, respectively, both of which were approximately 10-fold more potent than varoglutamstat. In addition, the three inhibitors significantly reduced pE-Aβ3-40 levels in an acute animal model after intracerebroventricular (icv) injection and were selective for hQC. Further in vitro pharmacokinetic and toxicity studies, including those investigating cytotoxicity, hERG inhibition, blood–brain barrier (BBB) permeability and metabolic stability, indicated that N-(3-methylindazole-6-yl)-N’-(cyclohexyl)urea derivative exhibited the most promising efficacy, selectivity and drug-like profile; thus, it was evaluated for its in vivo efficacy in an AD model.