The paper describes a rational approach for the selection of cross-linkers during the development of molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs). As a model system for this research MIPs specific for the drug zidovudine (AZT) were designed and tested. Three cross-linkers trimethylolpropane trimethacrylate (TRIM), ethylene glycol dimethacrylate (EGDMA) and divinylbenzene (DVB) were studied. The analogue of zidovudine (AZT) ester (AZT-ES) was used as a dummy template. The imprinting factors for all of the polymers in the static adsorption experiments were calculated. The data on the AZT adsorption by control polymers (CP), which were prepared with different cross-linkers without a functional monomer, was also analyzed. DVB was found to be more inert towards zidovudine than EGDMA and TRIM, which was confirmed by both molecular modelling and adsorption experiments. It was demonstrated that DVB-based polymers had a higher imprinting factor (I = 1.85) compared with other tested cross-linked polymers. It was suggested that the selection of the cross-linker should be based on the strength of the interaction with the template: the cross-linker which displays lower binding of the template should be preferential because it generates MIPs with lower non-specific binding and a higher imprinting factor, and therefore specificity. Which cross-linker to use for the preparation of any particular MIP can be determined by analysis of the interactions between the cross-linker and template. This could be done either virtually using computational modelling or by template adsorption using a small library of polymers prepared using different cross-linkers.