1. Resveratrol, a polyphenolic compound present in grape and wine, has beneficial effects against cancer and protective effects on the cardiovascular system. It has been shown that the compound is sulphated in human liver and the aims of the present investigation were to study resveratrol glucuronidation in human liver microsomes and to determine whether flavonoids inhibit resveratrol glucuronidation. 2. A simple and reproducible radiometric assay for resveratrol glucuronidation was developed. The assay employed uridine-5'-diphosphoglucuronic acid-[14C] and unlabelled resveratrol. Resveratrol-glucuronide was isolated by TLC. The intra- and interassays variabilities were 1 and 1.5%, respectively. 3. The rate of resveratrol glucuronidation was measured in 10 liver samples. The mean +/- SD and median of resveratrol glucuronidation rate were 0.69 +/- 0.34 and 0.80 nmol/min/mg, respectively. Resveratrol glucuronosyl transferase followed Michaelis-Menten kinetics and the Km and Vmax (mean +/- SD; n = 5) were 0.15 +/- 0.09 mM and 1.3 +/- 0.3 nmol/min/mg, respectively. The intrinsic clearance was 11 +/- 4 x 10(-3) ml/min.mg. 4. The flavonoid quercetin inhibited resveratrol glucuronidation and its IC50 (mean +/- SD; n = 3) was 10 +/- 1 microM. Myricetin, catechin, kaempferol, fisetin and apigenin (all at 20 microM) inhibited resveratrol glucuronidation and the percent of control ranged between 46% (catechin) to 72% (apigenin). 5. The present results show that resveratrol is glucuronated in the human liver. Glucuronidation may reduce the bioavailability of this compound however, flavonoids inhibit resveratrol glucuronidation and such an inhibition might improve the bioavailability of resveratrol.