The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of bupropion on cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6) activity. Twenty-one subjects completed this repeated-measures study in which dextromethorphan (30-mg oral dose) was administered to smokers at baseline and after 17 days of treatment with either bupropion sustained-release (150 mg twice daily) or matching placebo. Subjects quit smoking 3 days before the second dextromethorphan administration. To assess CYP2D6 activity, urinary dextromethorphan/dextrorphan metabolic ratios were calculated after an 8-hour urine collection. Thirteen subjects received bupropion, and 8 received placebo. In those receiving active medication, the dextromethorphan/dextrorphan ratio increased significantly at the second assessment relative to the first (0.012 +/- 0.012 vs. 0.418 +/- 0.302; P < 0.0004). No such change was observed in those randomized to placebo (0.009 +/- 0.010 vs. 0.017 +/- 0.015; P = NS). At baseline, all subjects were phenotypically extensive CYP2D6 metabolizers (metabolic ratio <0.3); after treatment, 6 of 13 subjects receiving bupropion, but none of those receiving placebo, had metabolic ratios consistent with poor CYP2D6 metabolizers. Bupropion is therefore a potent inhibitor of CYP2D6 activity, and care should be exercised when initiating or discontinuing bupropion use in patients taking drugs metabolized by CYP2D6.