Exposure of hyperthyroid rats to halothane results in a centrilobular necrosis of the liver and an 11-fold increase in serum glutamate-pyruvate transaminase (SGPT) levels. These effects are not seen in euthyroid animals. Paradoxically, administration of diethylmaleate to hyperthyroid rats significantly decreased the levels of hepatic glutathione and blocked the halothane-induced hepatic necrosis as well as decreased the elevation of SGPT. In contrast, pretreatment of animals with N-acetylcysteine, an intracellular sulfhydryl repletor , significantly increased the severity of the halothane-induced hepatic necrosis and increased the elevation of SGPT. Similarly, cysteamine, another intracellular sulfhydryl repletor , also exacerbated halothane-induced liver injury. Halothane-induced hepatotoxicity is at least in part apparently regulated by cellular glutathione levels. Paradoxically, glutathione seems to be involved in the bioactivation rather than the detoxification of halothane.