The ability of modafinil to affect human hepatic cytochrome P450 (CYP) activities was examined in vitro. The potential for inhibition of CYP1A2, CYP2A6, CYP2B6, CYP2C9, CYP2C19, CYP2D6, CYP2E1, CYP3A4/5, and CYP4A9/11 by modafinil (5-250 microM) was evaluated with pooled human liver microsomes. Modafinil exhibited minimal capacity to inhibit any CYP enzyme, except CYP2C19. Modafinil inhibited the 4'-hydroxylation of S-mephenytoin, a marker substrate for CYP2C19, reversibly and competitively with a K(i) value of 39 microM, which approximates the steady-state C(max) value of modafinil in human plasma at a dosage of 400 mg/day. No irreversible inhibition of any CYP enzyme was observed, and there was no evidence of metabolism-dependent inhibition. The potential for induction of CYP activity was evaluated by exposing primary cultures of human hepatocytes to modafinil (10-300 microM). Microsomes were then prepared and assayed for CYP1A2, CYP2A6, CYP2B6, CYP2C8, CYP2C9, CYP2C19, CYP2D6, and CYP3A4/5 activities. The mean activities of microsomal CYP1A2, CYP2B6, and CYP3A4/5 from modafinil-treated hepatocytes were higher (up to 2-fold) than those in the solvent-treated controls but were less than those produced by reference inducers of these enzymes. At high concentrations of modafinil (>/=100 microM), the mean activity of CYP2C9 was decreased (up to 60%) relative to that in the solvent controls. Overall, modafinil was shown to have effects on human hepatic CYP1A2, CYP2B6, CYP2C9, CYP2C19, and CYP3A4/5 activities in vitro. Although effects obtained in vitro are not always predictive of effects in vivo, such results provide a rational basis for understanding drug-drug interactions that are observed clinically and for planning subsequent investigations.