Human arylamine N-acetyltransferases 1 and 2 (NAT1 and NAT2) are polymorphic phase II xenobiotic-metabolising enzymes (XME) that acetylate arylamine compounds. They therefore play an important role in the detoxication and/or metabolic activation of certain therapeutic drugs, occupational chemicals and carcinogens. Although the use of the term "xenobiotic" implies that XME form a separate and distinct class of enzymes, possible endogenous substrates may exist. Unlike NAT2, NAT1 is produced in most tissues. Polymorphism at the NAT1 locus has been associated with the existence of at least 26 allelic variants, generating phenotypic variations in terms of NAT1 catalytic activity. This genetic variation affects the acetylator status of individuals, leading to interindividual differences in drug response and predisposition to disease in humans. Recent studies have shown that non-genetic factors may also regulate NAT1 activity at the posttranslational level, with potentially important consequences for drug toxicity. In this mini-review, we summarise what is currently known about the regulation of NAT1 activity by non-genetic factors, including substrates and oxidative stress. Recent findings presented here may account for the genotype/phenotype relationship for the NAT1 locus being less clear-cut than that for human NAT2.