ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Azadirachta indica A. Juss, popularly known as neem, has been extensively used in Ayurvedic medicine by Indian population for over 2000 years. It is used traditionally for the healing of various diseases. Natural products and their derivatives provide an excellent source for new anti-viral drugs. AIM OF THE STUDY: The present study aims at evaluating the activity of two polysaccharides (P1 and P2) isolated from the leaves of Azadirachta indica and their chemical sulfated derivatives (P1S and P2S) against poliovirus type 1 (PV-1). MATERIALS AND METHODS: The cytotoxicity of the compounds was analyzed by MTT and the antiviral effect was determined by plaque reduction assay in different protocols. RESULTS: The polysaccharides did not show any cytotoxic effects on HEp-2 cells at the highest tested concentration (200 μg/ml) and exhibited significant antiviral activity with inhibitory concentrations (IC₅₀) of 80 μg/ml, 37.5 μg/ml, 77.5 μg/ml, and 12.1 μg/ml for P1, P1S, P2 and P2S, respectively, and the selectivity indexes (SI) ranged from 18 to 131.9. The compounds demonstrated better inhibitory effect when added concomitantly with the virus infection with a dose-dependent curve inhibition. Lesser effect was observed when the compounds were added after viral infection and the least effect at pre-treatment. CONCLUSIONS: We suggested that the polysaccharides obtained from Azadirachta indica act against PV-1 by inhibiting the initial stage of viral replication. Importantly, original polysaccharides showed better virucidal effect than their sulfated derivatives at all tested concentrations. This study provides a scientific basis for the past and present ethnomedical uses of this plant.