Glimepiride, a sulfonylurea hypoglycemic agent, is metabolized by cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9) which is known to have genetic polymorphisms. To examine the effects of CYP2C9 genetic polymorphisms on the safety and efficacy of glimepiride in patients with type 2 diabetes, the responses to the glimepiride were measured in Japanese type 2 diabetic patients with the different CYP2C9 genotype. The reduction in the HbA(1c) was significantly larger (P<0.05) among the CYP2C9*1/*3 subjects than among the CYP2C9*1/*1 subjects. The long-term observations of 2 patients with a CYP2C9*1/*3 suggested that subjects with a CYP2C9*1/*3 respond well to glimepiride during the initial phase of treatment, but 1 patient have shown the weight gain over the long-term treatment. The pharmacokinetic study showed that the area under the concentration-time curve for glimepiride in the CYP2C9*1/*3 subjects was approximately 2.5-fold higher than that of the CYP2C9*1/*1 subjects. The intrinsic clearance of glimepiride by the CYP2C9*3 enzyme was lower than that by the CYP2C9*1 enzyme. These results suggested that the lower hydroxylation activity of glimepiride in the subject with type 2 diabetes and CYP2C9*1/*3 led to a marked elevation in the plasma concentrations of glimepiride and a stronger pharmacological effect of glimepiride.