1. Fully automated inhibition screens for the major human hepatic cytochrome P450s have been developed and validated. Probe assays were the fluorometric-based ethoxyresorufin O-deethylation for CYP1A2 and radiometric analysis of erythromycin N-demethylation for CYP3A4, dextromethorphan O-demethylation for CYP2D6, naproxen O-demethylation for CYP2C9 and diazepam N-demethylation for CYP2C19. For the radiometric assays > 99.7% of 14C-labelled substrate was routinely extracted from incubations by solid-phase extraction. 2. Furafylline, sulphaphenazole, omeprazole, quinidine and ketoconazole were identified as specific markers for the respective CYP1A2 (IC50 = 6 microM), CYP2C9 (0.7 microM), CYP2C19 (6 microM), CYP2D6 (0.02 microM) and CYP3A4 (0.2 microM) inhibition screens. 3. For the radiometric methods, a two-point IC50 estimate was validated by correlating the IC50 obtained with a full (seven-point) assay (r2 = 0.98, p < 0.001). The two-point IC50 estimate is useful for initial screening, while the full IC50 method provides more definitive quantitation, where required. 4. IC50 determined for a series of test compounds in human liver microsomes and cytochrome P450 cDNA-expressed enzymes were similar (r2 = 0.89, p < 0.001). In particular, the CYP1A2, CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 screens demonstrated the flexibility to accept either enzyme source. As a result of incomplete substrate selectivity, expressed enzymes were utilized for analysis of CYP2C9 and CYP2C19 inhibition. Good agreement was demonstrated between IC50 determined in these assays to IC50 published by other laboratories using a wide range of analytical techniques, which provided confidence in the universality of these inhibition screens. 5. These automated screens for initial assessment of P450 inhibition potential allow rapid determination of IC50. The radiometric assays are flexible, sensitive, robust and free from analytical interference, and they should permit the identification and eradication of inhibitory structural motifs within a series of potential drug candidates.