In vitro drug metabolism by cultured rat, rabbit and human adult hepatocytes has been studied, using ketotifen (ZADITEN) as a model substrate because it is biotransformed in vivo by various metabolic pathways in man and animals. The major in vivo pathways were demonstrated in vitro, namely oxidation in rat hepatocytes, oxidation, glucuronidation and sulfation in rabbit hepatocytes, reduction and glucuronidation in human hepatocytes. Human hepatocytes were the most stable in culture, displaying ketotifen biotransformation for at least one week. These results clearly demonstrated that cultured hepatocytes retain their in vivo specific drug metabolizing activities, including inter-species polymorphism, for a few days. Therefore, pure hepatocyte cultures represent a useful system suitable for drug metabolism studies.