Single oral 10 mg doses of diazepam and demethyldiazepam were given on different occasions to 16 healthy subjects. The subjects included four poor hydroxylators of debrisoquin and three poor hydroxylators of mephenytoin. There was a correlation between the total plasma clearance of diazepam and demethyldiazepam (rs = 0.83; p less than 0.01). There was no relationship between benzodiazepine disposition and debrisoquin hydroxylation. Poor hydroxylators of mephenytoin had less than half the plasma clearance of both diazepam (p = 0.0008) and demethyldiazepam (p = 0.0001) compared with extensive hydroxylators of mephenytoin. The plasma half-lives were longer in poor hydroxylators than they were in extensive hydroxylators of mephenytoin for both diazepam (88.3 +/- SD 17.2 and 40.8 +/- 14.0 hours; p = 0.0002) and demethyldiazepam (127.8 +/- 23.0 and 59.0 +/- 16.8 hours; p = 0.0001). There was no significant difference in volume of distribution of the benzodiazepines between the phenotypes. This study shows that the metabolism of both diazepam (mainly demethylation) and demethyldiazepam (mainly hydroxylation) is related to the mephenytoin, but not to the debrisoquin, hydroxylation phenotype.