N1-Methyl-N2-(2,3-butadienyl)-1,4-butanediamine (MDL 72521) and N1,N2-bis(2,3-butadienyl)-1,4-butanediamine (MDL 72527) are specific, potent, enzyme-activated, irreversible inhibitors of polyamine oxidase in vitro. These compounds are also capable of completely inhibiting polyamine oxidase in mouse tissues at intraperitoneal doses greater than 20 mg/kg. Enzyme activity reappears in the various organs within 2-3 days to 50% of the control values. Irreversible inhibition of polyamine oxidase in mice led to decreased putrescine (30-40%) and spermidine (10-20%) levels in liver and some other organs. At the same time N1-acetylspermidine and, to a lesser extent, N1-acetylspermine were accumulating at rates which are assumed to be related to the rates of polyamine degradation. Even after treatment with polyamine oxidase inhibitors over a period of 6 weeks at doses which produced complete inhibition of polyamine oxidase in all organs, including the brain, neither toxic effects nor changes in body weight or behaviour were observed.