3-Substituted pyrazoles, HOCH2 (1), HOCH2CH2 (2), HOCH2CH2CH2 (3), ClCH2 (4), ClCH2CH2 (5), ClCH2CH2CH2 (6), and CH3CO (7), were synthesized and evaluated in vitro on horse liver alcohol dehydrogenase for their potential as inhibitors of ethanol metabolism. 1 to 6 bound to the enzyme-NAD+ complex with dissociation constants of 40 to 200 microM, much higher than the constants for the corresponding 4-substituted pyrazoles, but with the same absorption maximum at 295 nm. 4 inactivated the enzyme within a few minutes, but NAD+ protected against reaction, and 4 nonspecifically alkylated many sulfur atoms in the protein. The isomer, 4-(chloromethyl)pyrazole, behaved similarly, 5 and 6 strongly inhibited the enzyme in the presence of NAD+, due to formation of the slowly dissociable (10(-3)s-1) enzyme-NAD+-pyrazole complex, but did not irreversibly inactivate the enzyme. 7 inhibits the enzyme weakly (Kp = 5 mM). It appears that the 3-substituted pyrazoles bind to the enzyme-NAD+ complex with the reactive functional group improperly positioned for specific irreversible reaction.