Background: Conformation generation is a ubiquitous problem in molecule modelling. Many applications require sampling the broad molecular conformational space or perceiving the bioactive conformers to ensure success. Numerous in silico methods have been proposed in an attempt to resolve the problem, ranging from deterministic to non-deterministic and systemic to stochastic ones. In this work, we described an efficient conformation sampling method named Cyndi, which is based on multi-objective evolution algorithm. Results: The conformational perturbation is subjected to evolutionary operation on the genome encoded with dihedral torsions. Various objectives are designated to render the generated Pareto optimal conformers to be energy-favoured as well as evenly scattered across the conformational space. An optional objective concerning the degree of molecular extension is added to achieve geometrically extended or compact conformations which have been observed to impact the molecular bioactivity (JComput -Aided Mol Des 2002, 16: 105–112). Testing the performance of Cyndi against a test set consisting of 329 small molecules reveals an average minimum RMSD of 0.864 A to corresponding bioactive conformations, indicating Cyndi is highly competitive against other conformation generation methods. Meanwhile, the high-speed performance (0.49 ± 0.18 seconds per molecule) renders Cyndi to be a practical toolkit for conformational database preparation and facilitates subsequent pharmacophore mapping or rigid docking. The copy of precompiled executable if Cyndi and the test set molecules in mol2 format are accessible in Additional file 1. Conclusion: On the basis of MOEA algorithm, we present a new, highly efficient conformation generation method, Cyndi, and report the results of validation and performance studies comparing with other four methods. The results reveal that Cyndi is capable of generating geometrically diverse conformers and outperforms other four multiple conformer generators in the case of reproducing the bioactive conformations against 329 structures. The speed advantage indicates Cyndi is a powerful alternative method for extensive conformational sampling and large-scale conformer database preparation.
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