Interaction between erythromycin, a strong inhibitor of CYP3A4, and nitrazepam, a long-acting benzodiazepine, was investigated in a double-blind and randomized cross-over study of two phases. Ten healthy volunteers received erythromycin (500 mg x 3) orally or placebo for 6 days. On the fourth day they were given a challenge dose of 5 mg nitrazepam. Plasma samples were collected and psychomotor effects were measured during 42 hr after intake of nitrazepam. There was a statistically significant pharmacokinetic interaction between erythromycin and nitrazepam. Erythromycin increased the area under the nitrazepam concentration-time curve by 25% (P < 0.05) and the peak concentration by 30% (P < 0.05). The concentration peak time of nitrazepam was shortened by over 50% (P < 0.05). The elimination half-lives did not change. Accordingly, as far as the metabolism of nitrazepam is concerned, erythromycin does not cause any major changes in the metabolism of nitrazepam. In psychomotor performance only minor differences were seen. It is concluded that the interaction between erythromycin and nitrazepam is of little clinical significance.