We evaluated the significance of the interaction between rifampin and verapamil in six volunteers who received single doses of verapamil, 10 mg intravenously (IV), then 120 mg orally two days later. Subjects were then given rifampin, 600 mg orally every day for 15 days. After 13 and 15 days of rifampin therapy, the IV and oral doses of verapamil were repeated. Electrocardiograms (ECG) were done and serum verapamil and norverapamil concentrations measured before and for 12 h after each dose. For IV verapamil, there was a small decrease in area under the serum concentration-time curve and an increase in clearance after rifampin therapy (p less than 0.05). There were no changes in elimination half-life, volume of distribution, or AUC for percentage of change in P-R interval-time curve (AUCPR). For oral verapamil, there were marked decreases in peak concentration, AUC, oral bioavailability (all p less than 0.005), and AUCPR (p less than 0.001) after rifampin treatment. There were no changes in time to peak concentration or elimination half-life. For oral verapamil, significant P-R interval prolongation occurred only before treatment with rifampin. The decrease in oral bioavailability and the abolition of ECG response confirm that a highly significant drug interaction exists between rifampin and verapamil given orally but not intravenously.