To investigate the effect of the consumption of watercress (Nasturtium officinale R. Br.), a cruciferous vegetable, on acetaminophen metabolism, the pharmacokinetics of acetaminophen and its metabolites were studied in a crossover trial of human volunteers. A single oral dose of acetaminophen (1 gm) was given 10 hours after ingestion of watercress homogenates (50 gm). In comparison with acetaminophen only, the ingestion of watercress resulted in a significant reduction in the area under the plasma cysteine acetaminophen (Cys-acetaminophen) concentration-time curve and in the peak plasma Cys-acetaminophen concentration by 28% +/- 3% and by 21% +/- 4% (mean +/- SE; n = 7; p < 0.005), respectively. Correspondingly, the Cys-acetaminophen formation rate constant and Cys-acetaminophen formation fraction were decreased by 55% +/- 9% and 52% +/- 7% (p < 0.01), respectively. Consistent with the results obtained from the plasma, the total urinary excretion of Cys-acetaminophen in 24 hours was also reduced. A decrease of mercapturate acetaminophen, a Cys-acetaminophen metabolite, was also shown in the plasma and urine samples. However, the plasma pharmacokinetic processes and the urinary excretions of acetaminophen, acetaminophen glucuronide, and acetaminophen sulfate were not altered significantly by the watercress treatment. These results suggest that the consumption of watercress causes a decrease in the levels of oxidative metabolites of acetaminophen, probably due to inhibition of oxidative metabolism of this drug.