HUMAN LIVER ALDEHYDE OXIDASE (ALDEHYDE: O(2) oxidoreductase, EC 184.108.40.206) has been purified 60-fold and some of its properties studied. Like aldehyde oxidase from other mammalian species, human liver aldehyde oxidase is an enzyme with dual substrate specificity, possessing the ability to catalyze not only the oxidation of aldehydes to the corresponding carboxylic acids, but also the hydroxylation of a number of nonaldehydic heterocyclic compounds; its relative activity towards the latter group of substrates is low, however, when compared with that of liver aldehyde oxidase from rabbit and guinea pig. When the aromatic aldehyde benzaldehyde is used as substrate, human liver aldehyde oxidase, like the rabbit enzyme, is strongly inhibited by menadione, estradiol-17beta, antimycin A, Triton X-100, and N-alkylphenothiazines; the human enzyme differs from the rabbit enzyme, however, in being relatively insensitive to oligomycin and Amytal. Like the rabbit enzyme, the human enzyme can catalyze the 3-hydroxylation of phenazine methosulfate (PMS) and the 6-hydroxylation of N-methylnicotinamide (NMN). With the rabbit enzyme, however, the aerobic hydroxylation of these substrates proceeds by a conventional mechanism, while with the human enzyme, the aerobic hydroxylation of PMS and NMN is anomalous in that the reaction is inhibited only by agents with affinity for the substrate-binding site, such as cyanide and N-alkylphenothiazines, and not by agents which inhibit the "internal electron transport chain" of the enzyme, such as menadione and diethylstilbestrol. This mode of oxidation appears to be unique to substrates with a positively charged quaternary nitrogen; the hydroxylation of other nonaldehydic heterocyclic substrates for the human enzyme is sensitive to conventional aldehyde oxidase inhibitors.