One of the factors that can alter the response to drugs is the concurrent administration of other drugs. There are several mechanisms by which drugs may interact, but most can be categorised as pharmacokinetic (absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion), pharmacodynamic, or combined toxicity. Knowledge of the mechanism by which a given drug interaction occurs is often clinically useful and may help to avoid serious adverse events and perioperative morbidity. Although every tissue has some ability to metabolise drugs, the liver is the principal organ of drug metabolism and at the subcellular level the cytochrome P450 enzyme system is the main source of drug interaction. This article reviews the basic principles of drug metabolism and the role of cytochrome P450 in this scenario. Drugs frequently used in anaesthesia and critical care medicine such as benzodiazepines, opioid analgesics, antihypertensive and antiarrhythmic agents, antibiotics and antifungal drugs, antiemetics, histamine-receptor-antagonists, theopylline and paracetamol will be considered. The development of methods and tools which are practical and also economic, are of utmost importance since drug interaction is predictable if the metabolic pathway and the activity (genetic polymorphism) of the enzyme is known.