Ingestion of cruciferous vegetables may prevent chemically induced carcinogenesis by their influence on specific cytochrome P450 enzymes (CYP) and phase II drug metabolizing enzymes in humans and rodents. Thus CYP enzymes are involved in transformation of procarcinogens, mutagens, steroid hormones and a large variety of other endogenous and exogenous components. In order to learn more about the influence of cruciferous vegetables on drug metabolizing enzymes in man two CYP enzymes previously suggested to be induced by vegetables were selected in an in vivo experiment in humans. Sixteen healthy non-smoking subjects, two females and 14 males, were exposed to three different types of diets and afterwards assayed for CYP1A2 catalysed caffeine metabolites and for CYP2E1 catalysed 6-hydroxylation of chlorzoxazone. Further, 2-hydroxyoestrone:16 alpha-hydroxylation ratios were determined in urine by means of a monoclonal antibody-based enzyme immunoassay. The three dietary periods were: (A) a customary home diet; (B) a 6 day standard diet avoiding well-known dietary inducers and inhibitors of CYP; (C) a 12 day dietary supplement to the standard diet of 500 g/day broccoli. The average 6-hydroxychlorzoxazone:chlorzoxazone ratio decreased by 21% (P < 0.05) after diet B compared with diet A in a 2 h plasma sample after ingestion of 500 mg chlorzoxazone. The ratio increased by 19% after diet C, however, this was not statistically significant. The caffeine metabolic ratio (CMR) was determined in urine 6 h after ingestion of 100 mg caffeine. The mean CMR increased by 5.5% when changing from diet A to diet B. When shifting to diet C the mean CMR increased a further 19% (P < 0.0005). The average 2-hydroxyoestrone:16 alpha-hydroxyoestrone ratio decreased by 1.3% when comparing diet A with diet B. Daily broccoli intake increased the ratio by 29.5% (P < 0.05). A low correlation of CMR with the 2-hydroxyoestrone:16 alpha-hydroxyoestrone ratio indicates that human CYP1A2 and other CYP enzymes involved in oestrone 2-hydroxylation are induced by dietary broccoli. On the other hand, the catalytic activity of CYP2E1 is not affected to the same degree by dietary broccoli.