1. A number of compounds have been examined for their ability to inhibit tolbutamide hydroxylase activity in human liver microsomes (control value at a substrate concentration of 150 microM being 0.27 +/- 0.12 nmol min-1 mg-1 protein; mean +/- s.d.; n = 7). 2. IC50 (concentration of inhibitor producing 50% inhibition) values were determined for a range of sulphonamides, imidazoles and aminoquinoline compounds. The most potent inhibition was evident with the 1-substituted imidazole antimycotic drugs ketoconazole, clotrimazole and miconazole and the sulphonamide sulphaphenazole (IC50 values of 16.5, 2.5, 0.85 and 0.5 microM respectively). A number of compounds showed little or no inhibition of tolbutamide hydroxylase as judged by an IC50 of greater than or equal to 500 microM. 3. The Km value for tolbutamide hydroxylase was 125 microM and Vmax, 0.44 nmol min-1 mg-1 protein. All the substituted imidazoles examined in kinetic studies 1v vs 1s, Line-weaver-Burk plots) produced either non-competitive or mixed inhibition. The sulphonamides exhibited competitive inhibition, the Ki for sulphaphenazole being 0.22 microM. Primaquine showed mixed inhibition. Dixon plots confirmed the type of inhibition produced. 4. Although the competitive inhibition between some sulphonamides and tolbutamide is consistent with metabolism by the same isozyme of cytochrome P-450 it does not prove it and further studies with purified enzymes will be necessary to confirm this.