The acute effect of a single oral dose of methoxsalen on the pharmacokinetics of caffeine was investigated in five nonsmoking volunteers with psoriasis. Caffeine, 200 mg orally, was administered to each subject at baseline before treatment with methoxsalen. One week later each subject was given a single oral dose of 1.2 mg/kg methoxsalen 1 hour before administrations of another oral dose of 200 mg caffeine. The clearance of caffeine declined markedly from 110 +/- 17 ml/min (mean +/- SE) in the control study to 34 +/- 5 ml/min after methoxsalen. During the period of maximum inhibition the mean elimination half-life of caffeine increased from 5.6 hours at baseline to 57 hours after administration of methoxsalen. The peak concentration of caffeine and the time to reach the peak concentration of caffeine were not affected by pretreatment with methoxsalen. Thus, methoxsalen, administered acutely, is a potent inhibitor of caffeine metabolism in humans with psoriasis. Results of this investigation suggest that the elimination of concurrently administered drugs may be inhibited in patients receiving methoxsalen. In comparison with other drugs, methoxsalen is the most potent inhibitor of drug metabolism in humans. Other work has shown that inhibition of drug metabolism by methoxsalen is associated with both extensive covalent binding of metabolite(s) of methoxsalen to liver microsomal protein in vitro and in vivo and inactivation of cytochrome P-450.