The human multidrug resistance protein, or P-glycoprotein (Pgp), exhibits a high-capacity drug-dependent ATP hydrolytic activity that is a direct reflection of its drug transport capability. This activity is readily measured in membranes isolated from cultured insect cells infected with a baculovirus carrying the human mdr1 cDNA. The drug-stimulated ATPase activity is a useful alternative to conventional screening systems for identifying high-affinity drug substrates of the Pgp with potential clinical value as chemosensitizers for tumor cells that have become drug resistant. Using this assay system, a variety of drugs have been directly shown to interact with the Pgp. Many of the drugs stimulate the Pgp ATPase activity, but certain drugs bind tightly to the drug-binding site of the Pgp without eliciting ATP hydrolysis. Either class of drugs may be useful as chemosensitizing agents. The baculovirus/insect cell Pgp ATPase assay system may also facilitate future studies of the molecular structure and mechanism of the Pgp.