Avoidance of apoptosis is critical for the development and sustained growth of tumors. The pro-survival protein myeloid cell leukemia 1 (Mcl-1) is an anti-apoptotic member of the Bcl-2 family of proteins which is overexpressed in many cancers. Upregulation of Mcl-1 in human cancers is associated with high tumor grade, poor survival, and resistance to chemotherapy. Therefore, pharmacological inhibition of Mcl-1 is regarded as an attractive approach to treating relapsed or refractory malignancies. Herein, we disclose the design, synthesis, optimization, and early preclinical evaluation of a potent and selective small-molecule inhibitor of Mcl-1. Our exploratory design tactics focused on structural modifications which improve the potency and physicochemical properties of the inhibitor while minimizing the risk of functional cardiotoxicity. Despite being in the “non-Lipinski” beyond-Rule-of-Five property space, the developed compound benefits from exquisite oral bioavailability in vivo and induces potent pharmacodynamic inhibition of Mcl-1 in a mouse xenograft model.