Debrisoquine polymorphism has been studied extensively in Caucasian populations. The prevalence of the poor metaboliser phenotype is 3-10% in European and American Caucasian populations but appears to be very low in Asian populations. This study was carried out to determine the metabolic oxidation status in 173 Thai subjects. Phenotyping was performed using the metabolic ratio (MR) calculated as the 0-8 h urinary output of debrisoquine/0-8 h urinary output of 4-hydroxydebrisoquine after oral administration of 10 mg debrisoquine hemisulphate. Two subjects (1.2%) were phenotyped as poor metabolisers; they had MR values of 13.17 and 92.04. The incidence of the poor metaboliser phenotype of debrisoquine oxidation of 1.2% seems to be lower in the Thai population compared with that in various Caucasian populations.