Adaptor-Associated Kinase 1 (AAK1), a Ser/Thr protein kinase, responsible for regulating clathrin-mediated endocytosis, is ubiquitous in the central nervous system (CNS). AAK1 plays an important role in neuropathic pain and a variety of other human diseases, including viral invasion, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's syndrome, etc. Therefore, targeting AAK1 is a promising therapeutic strategy. However, although small molecule AAK1 inhibitors have been vigorously developed, only BMS-986176/LX-9211 has entered clinical trials. Simultaneously, new small molecule inhibitors, including BMS-911172 and LP-935509, exhibited excellent druggability. This review elaborates on the structure, biological function, and disease relevance of AAK1. We emphatically analyze the structure-activity relationships (SARs) of small molecule AAK1 inhibitors based on different binding modalities and discuss prospective strategies to provide insights into novel AAK1 therapeutic agents for clinical practice.