Stable isotope labeling (SIL) of a drug results in a higher molecular weight than that of the unlabeled drug. SIL tracer doses can be quantitated separately from unlabeled drug by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) without exposing the patient to radiation. The higher molecular weight of SIL drug could cause a higher energy of activation for (and slowing of) metabolic reactions ("isotope effect"). To evaluate possible isotope effect, three dogs and three men were infused with a mixture containing equal amounts of SIL (2-13C-1,3-15N2) and unlabeled phenytoin (PHT). Plasma and urine were collected at regular intervals. Concentrations of SIL and unlabeled PHT and HPPH (the major metabolite of PHT) were determined by GC-MS. Within each subject there was no trend for concentrations of SIL PHT or HPPH to be higher or lower than concentrations of their unlabeled analogs (greater than 0.20 to 0.90). There was no difference in the distribution and elimination half-lifes (t 1/2s), volume of distribution, volume of central compartment, or clearance of the two forms of PHT. Thus, no isotope effect was found.