Aroclor 1254-induced rat liver homogenate supernatant (liver S-9) is routinely used as an exogenous metabolic activation system for the evaluation of mutagenicity of xenobiotics. The purpose of this study is to evaluate whether results obtained with Aroclor 1254-induced liver microsomes would be relevant to human. Aroclor 1254-induced and uninduced rat liver microsomes were compared to human liver microsomes in the metabolism of substrates which are known to be selectively metabolized by the major human cytochrome P450 (CYP) isoforms. The activities studied and the major CYP isoforms involved were as follows: phenacetin O-deethylation (CYP1A2); coumarin 7-hydroxylation, (CYP2A6); tolbutamide 4-hydroxylation (CYP2C9), S-mephenytoin 4'-hydroxylation (CYP2C19); dextromethorphan O-demethylation (CYP2D6); chloroxazone 6-hydroxylation (CYP2E1); and testosterone 6beta-hydroxylation (CYP3A4). We found that both induced and uninduced rat liver microsomes were active in all the pathways studied with the exception of coumarin 7-hydroxylation. Coumarin 7-hydroxylation was observed with human liver microsomes but not the rat liver microsomes. Aroclor-1254 was found to induce all activities measured, with the exception of coumarin 7-hydroxylation. Dextromethorphan O-deethylation activity was higher in the rat liver microsomes than the human liver microsomes. Testosterone 6beta-hydroxylation activity was found to be similar between the human liver microsomes and the induced rat liver microsomes. Our results suggest that experimental data obtained with Aroclor 1254-induced rat liver microsomes may not always be relevant to human.