Stably expressed human and rat phenol UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGTs) of the UGT1 complex (HlugP1, HlugP4 and 3-methylcholanthrene-inducible rat UGT1A1, the latter considered to be an orthologous enzyme to HlugP1) have been used to investigate the role of UGTs in paracetamol glucuronidation. Kinetic analysis of recombinant UGTs was compared to that of total UGT activities in liver microsomes. Paracetamol was found to be an overlapping substrate of several UGTs. It shows higher affinity for HlugP1 and rat UGT1A1 (apparent Km values of 2 and 3 mM, respectively) than for HlugP4 (Km = 50 mM) and other UGTs present in liver microsomes (Km values of > 12 mM). Glucuronidation of paracetamol with HlugP1 contrasts with that of 6-hydroxychrysene and of 4-methylumbelliferone, which are conjugated with higher affinity by HlugP4 than by HlugP1. Due to the wide tissue distribution of rat UGT1A1, paracetamol glucuronidation was also investigated in extrahepatic rat and human tissues. Paracetamol UGT activity was present and inducible by 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin in rat kidney, lung and spleen. It was also detected in human kidney. A selective cDNA probe for exon 1 of HlugP1 cross-reacted with mRNA from both human liver and kidney. The results demonstrate that paracetamol is conjugated by HlugP1 and its rat orthologue UGT1A1 with higher affinity than by HlugP4 and other UGTs.