To study the relationship between the dose of phenobarbital (PB) and the magnitude of its effects on microsomal enzymes, cytochrome P-450, UDP-glucuronyl transferase (UDPGT), and glucose-6-phosphatase (G6P) activities were determined in liver homogenate and microsome preparations from control rats and rats treated for 6 days with PB at doses ranging from 1 to 125 mg/kg/day. Both P-450 and UDPGT activities were enhanced by PB in a dose-related fashion. However, while the lowest dose of the drug to produce significant induction of both enzymes was the same (3 mg/kg), maximal induction of P-450 (214%) and UDPGT (285%) was obtained with different doses of PB, namely 75 and 125 mg/kg, respectively. UDPGT induction could equally be demonstrated regardless of whether "native" enzyme or enzyme activated by UDP-N-acetyl glucosamine, digitonin or deoxycholate was employed. In contrast to these inducing effects of the drug on P-450 and UDPGT, PB treatment resulted in a dose-related inhibition of G6P activity. The inhibitory effect was observed with both "native" and deoxycholate-activated enzymes, and could be demonstrated whether the data were expressed as enzyme specific activity (nanomoles per minute per milligram microsomal protein) or as total G6P activity (micromoles per minute per 100 g body weight). These results indicate that: (I) enzyme induction by PB is dose-related; (ii) induction of both P-450 and UDPGT is obtained in the rat with doses of the drug similar to those given to man; and (iii) observed inhibition of G6P activity by PB does not solely reflect an enzymatic dilution secondary to the proliferated endoplasmic reticulum.