We have studied the disposition of cyclophosphamide, its major cytotoxic metabolite phosphoramide mustard, and the synthetic glucocorticoid dexamethasone in nine patients receiving high-dose cyclophosphamide daily for 2 days before bone marrow transplantation. The total body clearance of cyclophosphamide was observed to increase from 93 +/- 27 ml/min on the first day to 178 +/- 83 ml/min on the second day. This was associated with an increase in the clearance of dexamethasone from 369 +/- 104 ml/min to 526 +/- 123 ml/min. An increased rate of formation of phosphoramide mustard with higher peak concentrations was also seen. Simulation studies show that these changes are most likely the result of an increase in the hepatic metabolism of cyclophosphamide. These results show that high-dose cyclophosphamide causes an increase in its own clearance and that of dexamethasone through an apparent induction of hepatic-metabolizing enzymes detectable 24 hours after initial exposure to cyclophosphamide.