1. Anti-human cytochrome P450 (CYP) 3A4 antiserum completely inhibited midazolam metabolism in monkey liver microsomes, suggesting that midazolam was mainly metabolized by CYP3A enzyme(s) in monkey liver microsomes. 2. Midazolam metabolism was also inhibited in vitro by typical chemical inhibitors of CYP3A, such as ketoconazole, erythromycin and diltiazem, and the apparent K(i) values for ketoconazole, erythromycin and diltiazem were 0.127, 94.2 and 29.6 microM, respectively. 3. CYP3A inhibitors increased plasma midazolam concentrations when midazolam and CYP3A inhibitors were co-administered orally. However, the pharmacokinetic parameters of midazolam were not changed by treatment with CYP3A inhibitors when midazolam was given intravenously. This suggests that CYP3A inhibitors modified the first-pass metabolism in the liver and/or intestine, but not systemic metabolism. 4. The drug-drug interaction responsible for CYP3A enzyme(s) inhibition was observed when midazolam and inhibitors were co-administrated orally. Therefore, it was concluded that monkeys given midazolam orally could be useful models for predicting drug-drug interactions in man based on CYP3A enzyme inhibition.