The effects of methyl, ethyl, isopropyl, isobutyl, and benzyl substituents at the alpha-carbon of N-methyl-2-phenethylamine on the kinetics of its N-demethylation in liver microsomes from both control and phenobarbital pretreated rats were studied. In control microsomes, the kinetic studies indicated that more than one enzyme was active for N-demethylation of N-methyl-alpha-methylphenethylamine (methamphetamine) while the other N-methyl-2-phenethylamines appeared to be demethylated by a single enzyme. In microsomes from phenobarbital pretreated animals, there appeared to be more than one enzyme system which was active for N-demethylation of all compounds except N-methyl-alpha-benzylphenethylamine. One of these had a much higher affinity for alpha-ethyl, isopropyl, and isobutyl N-methylphenethylamines while another exhibited affinities for substrates similar to the constitutive enzyme in control microsomes. A correlation was observed between the octanol-buffer or heptane-buffer distribution ratios of the compounds and the negative logarithm of the Michaelis constant (pKm) for the enzyme in control microsomes and for each of the enzyme systems in microsomes from phenobarbital-pretreated animals. Therefore, it is indicated that the concentration of a substrate at the active site of these microsomal enzymes is a function of its lipid solubility.