The effects of Danshen (Salvia miltiorrhiza), a popular traditional Chinese medicinal herb on the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of R- and S-warfarin stereoisomers were studied in rats. After a single oral dose of racemic warfarin (2 mg kg-1), treatment with oral Danshen extract (5 g kg-1, twice daily) for 3 days significantly altered the overall pharmacokinetics of both R- and S-warfarin and increased the plasma concentrations of both enantiomers over a period of 24 h and the prothrombin time over 2 days. At steady-state levels of racemic warfarin (0.2 mg kg-1 day-1 for 5 days) the 3-day treatment of Danshen extract (5 g kg-1, twice daily) not only prolonged the prothrombin time but also increased the steady-state plasma concentrations of R- and S-warfarin. The results indicate that Danshen extracts can increase the absorption rate constant, area under plasma concentration-time curves, maximum concentrations and elimination half-lives, but decreases the clearances and apparent volume of distribution of both R- and S-warfarin. The pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic interactions of warfarin during co-treatment with Danshen extract observed in this study indicate an explanation for the clinically observed incidents of exaggerated warfarin adverse effects when traditional Chinese medicinal herbs or herbal products such as Danshen and Danggui (observed in a previous study) were co-administered.