S-(-)-Nicotine and 13 of the most prevalent nicotine-related alkaloids and metabolites (i.e., S-(-)-nornicotine, myosmine, beta-nicotyrine, S-cotinine, S-norcotinine, S-(-)-nicotine N-1'-oxide, S-(-)-nicotine Delta1'-5'-iminium ion, S-(-)-anabasine, S-(-)-N-methylanabasine, anabaseine, S-(-)-anatabine, nicotelline, and 2,3'-bipyridyl) were evaluated as inhibitors of human cDNA-expressed cytochrome P-450 2A6 (CYP2A6) mediated coumarin 7-hydroxylation. Tobacco alkaloids myosmine, S-(-)-nornicotine, S-cotinine, S-norcotinine, S-(-)-nicotine N-1'-oxide, S-(-)-nicotine Delta1'-5'-iminium ion, S-(-)-N-methylanabasine, anabaseine, and nicotelline had Ki values for inhibition of coumarin 7-hydroxylation ranging from 20 microM to more than 300 microM whereas nicotine and S-(-)-anatabine were much more potent (i.e. 4.4 and 3.8 microM, respectively). The tobacco alkaloids 2,3'-bipyridyl (7.7 microM) and S-(-)-anabasine (5.4 microM), were somewhat less potent compared with S-(-)-nicotine or S-(-)-anatabine in inhibition of human CYP2A6. beta-Nicotyrine, in which the N-methylpyrrolidino moiety of nicotine was replaced by the aromatic N-methylpyrrole ring, was shown to inhibit human CYP2A6 with much greater potency (Ki=0.37 microM) compared with S-(-)-nicotine. Among the compounds examined, only nicotine and beta-nicotyrine were mechanism-based inhibitors of human CYP2A6. The potency of the mechanism-based CYP2A6 inhibitors suggests that, for smokers, modulation of CYP2A6 may be greater than that predicted on the basis of serum concentration of these alkaloids. Our results indicate that the prominent nicotine-related alkaloid beta-nicotyrine present after smoking potently inhibits human CYP2A6.