Glucuronidation of codeine was detected and compared with that of morphine in microsomes from human livers and kidneys. Vmax values for codeine-6-glucuronide (C6G) were 0.54 +/- 0.24 and 0.74 +/- 0.35 nmol/mg/min. in the livers and 0.10 and 0.13 nmol/mg/min. in the kidney, respectively, when codeine and UDP-glucuronic acid (UDPGA) were incubated with microsomal preparation. The corresponding Km values were 2.21 +/- 0.68 and 1.41 +/- 0.36 mM in the livers and 6.69 and 4.12 mM in the kidney. The average codeine glucuronyltransferase (GT) activity was 14-fold lower in the six kidneys than in the 11 livers. Higher GT activities were observed in liver microsomes from patients who had been exposed to enzyme inducers. Rates of glucuronide formation from morphine correlated significantly with those from codeine in both human liver and kidney microsomes. Morphine, amitriptyline, diazepam, probenecid and chloramphenicol inhibited codeine glucuronidation with Ki values of 3.6, 0.13, 0.18, 1.7 and 0.27 mM, respectively.