Aurora kinases play an essential role in mitotic progression and are potentially druggable targets in cancer therapy. We identified benzo[e]pyridoindoles (BePI) as powerful aurora kinase inhibitors. Their efficiency was demonstrated both in enzymatic inhibition studies and in cell culture assays. New BePI molecules were synthesized, and a structure–activity relationship study was conducted with the aim of improving the activity and solubility of the lead compound. Tetracyclic BePI derivatives are characterized by a particular curved shape, and the presence of an oxo group on the pyridine ring was found to be required for aurora kinase B inhibition. New hydrosoluble benzo[e]pyridoindolones were subsequently designed, and their efficacy was tested by a combination of cell-cycle analysis and time-lapse experiments in live cells. The most active BePI derivative, 13 b, inhibited the cell cycle, drove cells to polyploidy, and eventually induced apoptosis. It exhibited high antiproliferative activity in HeLa cells with an IC50 value of 63 nM. Relative to compounds tested in clinical trials, this antiproliferative potency places 13 b among the top 10 aurora kinase inhibitors. Our results justify further in vivo evaluation in preclinical animal models of cancer.