The inhibition of hepatic uptake transporters, such as OATP1B1, on the pharmacokinetics of atorvastatin is unknown. Here, we investigate the effect of a model hepatic transporter inhibitor, rifampin, on the kinetics of atorvastatin and its metabolites in humans. The inhibitory effect of a single rifampin dose on atorvastatin kinetics was studied in 11 healthy volunteers in a randomized, crossover study. Each subject received two 40-mg doses of atorvastatin, one on study day 1 and one on study day 8, separated by 1 week. One intravenous 30-min infusion of 600 mg rifampin was administered to each subject on either study day 1 or study day 8. Plasma concentrations of atorvastatin and metabolites were above the limits of quantitation for up to 24 h after dosing. Rifampin significantly increased the total area under the plasma concentration-time curve (AUC) of atorvastatin acid by 6.8+/-2.4-fold and that of 2-hydroxy-atorvastatin acid and 4-hydroxy-atorvastatin acid by 6.8+/-2.5- and 3.9+/-2.4-fold, respectively. The AUC values of the lactone forms of atorvastatin, 2-hydroxy-atorvastatin and 4-hydroxy-atorvastatin, were also significantly increased, but to a lower extent. An intravenous dose of rifampin substantially increased the plasma concentrations of atorvastatin and its acid and lactone metabolites. The data confirm that OATP1B transporters represent the major hepatic uptake systems for atorvastatin and its active metabolites. Inhibition of hepatic uptake may have consequences for efficacy and toxicity of drugs like atorvastatin that are mainly eliminated by the hepatobiliary system.