CYP2C9 is mainly responsible for the metabolic clearance of phenytoin and (S)-warfarin. We have shown previously that mutations in the CYP2C9 gene are associated with diminished metabolism of (S)-warfarin, and so we have now studied the metabolism of phenytoin to its primary inactive metabolite, (S)-pHPPH, by these mutant enzymes. Kinetic parameters were determined for (S)-pHPPH formation using recombinant CYP2C9 variants purified from insect cells. The data demonstrate that the CYP2C9*3 gene product retains only 4-6% of the metabolic efficiency of the wild-type protein, CYP2C9*1, towards phenytoin and (S)-warfarin. Consequently, we suggest that homozygous expression of CYP2C9*3 may represent a common genetic basis for (apparently) idiosyncratic toxicities that have been reported for these two low therapeutic index drugs.