Omeprazole is a benzimidazole derivative which induces both P450 1A1 and 1A2 in human liver in vitro and in vivo. Northern blot analysis of polyA RNA prepared from primary cultures of human hepatocytes indicates that both 1A1 and 1A2 messages are induced by beta-naphthoflavone and omeprazole. Co-treatment of cells with these inducers and with actinomycin D or cycloheximide results in no accumulation of both mRNA or superinduction of 1A1 mRNA, respectively. 9S enriched fraction of cytosol was prepared either from human hepatocytes in culture or from human liver tissue and analyzed by sucrose density gradient sedimentation for its capacity to bind 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), omeprazole or omeprazole sulfone (a metabolite of omeprazole in man). Whereas 2 microM TCDD displaced almost totally [3H]TCDD from the Ah receptor, both omeprazole and omeprazole sulfone did not, even at 5000-fold molar excess. In addition, when [14C] omeprazole was incubated with 9S enriched fraction of human liver or hepatocyte cytosol, no interaction could be detected in sucrose density gradient. These experiments suggest that omeprazole is not a ligand for the human liver Ah receptor.