1. A commercially-available human cytochrome P450 isozyme (CYP2D6) preparation was used in imipramine metabolism studies. This isozyme catalysed both aromatic C-oxidation and N-demethylation. 2-Hydroxyimipramine was the major metabolite; desipramine was isolated in a significant amount and 2-hydroxydesipramine was a trace metabolite. 2. To prevent decomposition of metabolites during the analytical procedure, the metabolism mixture was derivatized with acetic anhydride prior to extraction, and the derivatized metabolites were separated and quantified by g.l.c. with N/P detection. The analytical procedure had excellent sensitivity and was capable of routinely quantifying imipramine and its metabolites down to the 0.36 nmol level. 3. In excess of 90% of drug and metabolites was consistently recovered when metabolism was conducted over a 5-60-min duration. 4. The formation of the secondary metabolite, 2-hydroxydesimipramine, from imipramine proceeds by two pathways, via desipramine and via 2-hydroxyimipramine; the former is the preferred pathway. 5. CYP2D6 catalyses C-hydroxylation of imipramine to 2-hydroxyimipramine more efficiently than its N-demethylation to desipramine. Also, the C-hydroxylation of imipramine to 2-hydroxyimipramine proceeds more efficiently than the conversion of desipramine to 2-hydroxydesipramine.