Six copper complexes of Schiff base ligands containing 3,5-substituted-4-salicylideneamino-3,5-dimethyl-1,2,4-triazole have been synthesized and well characterized. The structures of complexes 11 and 22 were determined by X-ray crystal analysis. Fluorescence and potentiometric study indicated that in the physiological pH range, one ligand was dissociated from the complexes to form 1:1 mononucleus copper complexes. The complexes potently inhibit protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B), T-cell protein tyrosine phosphatase (TCPTP), megakaryocyte protein tyrosine phosphatase 2 (PTP-MEG2) and Src homology phosphatase 1 (SHP-1) with 3-4 fold selectivity against PTP1B over TCPTP and PTP-MEG2, and 3-9 fold over SHP-1, but display almost no inhibition against Src homology phosphatase 2 (SHP-2). Complex 11 inhibits PTP1B with a competitive model with Ki of 30 nM. Substitution with small groups at the phenyl of the ligand does not obviously influence the inhibitory ability of the complexes.