We have investigated the in vitro hamster hepatic microsomal metabolism of the amino-azaheterocycle, 2-amino-1-benzylbenzimidazole (ABB). Three major metabolites were isolated and structurally characterized, using a combination of off-line HPLC, in conjunction with both electron ionization and fast atom bombardment ionization tandem mass spectrometry. ABB was shown to be debenzylated to afford 2-aminobenzimidazole (AB), as well as N- and C-oxidized to give 1-benzyl-N2-hydroxyaminobenzimidazole (BHB) and 2-amino-1-benzyl-hydroxybenzimidazole, respectively. The possible reasons for formation of the exocyclic hydroxylamine BHB are discussed. Furthermore, ABB is proposed as a suitable model compound for investigating parameters that control formation of toxic hydroxylamines derived from amino-azaheterocycles.