We studied the effect of inhibiting the enzyme catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) by a novel COMT inhibitor, entacapone, on the pharmacokinetics and metabolism of levodopa in 12 healthy male volunteers. Single increasing oral doses of entacapone (50-400 mg) were administered concomitantly with a single oral dose of levodopa/carbidopa (100/25 mg). The subjects were treated with carbidopa (100 mg t.i.d.) for 1 day prior to the administration of study drugs. Plasma concentrations of levodopa; its metabolites 3-O-methyldopa (3-OMD), 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC), and homovanillic acid (HVA); as well as carbidopa and entacapone were determined for pharmacokinetic calculations. Entacapone dose-dependently increased the area under the plasma concentration-time curve (AUC) of levodopa; the increase was 65% after the 400 mg dose of entacapone. Neither Cmax nor Tmax of levodopa was statistically significantly influenced by entacapone. Entacapone dose-dependently decreased the AUC of 3-OMD, maximally by 58%. The AUC of DOPAC was statistically significantly increased but no change in the AUC of HVA was observed after entacapone. No drug-related adverse events or hemodynamic effects were observed. The in vivo biochemical effects of entacapone indicate that it is an orally active COMT inhibitor and that it may improve the therapeutic efficacy of levodopa in Parkinson's disease.