A simple, noninvasive procedure was developed to monitor glucuronidation and sulphation in patients using paracetamol as the test drug. Urinary paracetamol and its metabolites were determined by UV absorption and electrochemical detection after separation by HPLC. The metabolite to paracetamol ratio (M/P) was used as an approximation of the partial clearance due to metabolite formation. In 14 healthy volunteers, all nonsmokers without medication, M/P was 18 +/- 5 for glucuronides and 12 +/- 4 for sulphate esters. The test was validated in patients treated with enzyme inducers. In 10 patients with epilepsy given phenytoin 0.3 g/day, and in 10 patients with tuberculosis treated with rifampicin 0.6 g/day, the M/P value for glucuronidation was significantly increased to 41 +/- 11 and 35 +/- 7, respectively. In contrast, M/P values for sulphation were not significantly different from untreated controls. In 9 heavy smokers (about 40 cigarettes/day) M/P values for glucuronidation were also significantly increased to 33 +/- 11. However, in 4 moderate smokers (about 10 cigarettes/day) no significant increase was found. The results suggest that in man glucuronidation of paracetamol is inducible both by phenobarbital- and 3-methylcholanthrene-type inducers. Monitoring the ratios of various urinary paracetamol conjugates/paracetamol may be useful as a new tool for the evaluation of factors determining glucuronide and sulphate ester formation in man.