The relative catalytic activities of CYP2C9 and CYP2C19 in human liver microsomes has been determined using the approach of relative activity factors (RAFs). Tolbutamide methylhydroxylation and S-mephenytoin 4'-hydroxylation were used as measures of CYP2C9 and CYP2C19 activity, respectively. The kinetics of these reactions were studied in human liver microsomes, in microsomes from human lymphoblastoid cells, and in insect cells expressing CYP2C9 and CYP2C19. RAFs were calculated as the ratio of Vmax (reaction velocity at saturating substrate concentrations) in human liver microsomes of the isoform-specific index reaction divided by the Vmax of the reaction catalyzed by the cDNA expressed isoform. RAFs were also determined for SUPERMIX, a commercially available mixture of cDNA expressed human drug metabolizing CYPs formulated to achieve a balance of enzyme activities similar to that found in human liver microsomes. Lymphoblast RAF2C9 in human liver microsomes ranged from 54 to 145 pmol CYP/mg protein (mean value: 87), while a value of 251 pmol CYP/mg protein was obtained for SUPERMIX. Insect cell RAF2C9 in human liver microsomes ranged from 1.6 to 143 pmol CYP/mg protein (mean value: 49), while a value of 201 pmol CYP/mg protein was obtained for SUPERMIX. Both lymphoblast and insect cell RAF2C19 in human liver microsomes ranged from 4 to 45 pmol CYP/mg protein (mean values: 29 and 28, respectively), while a value of 29 pmol CYP/mg protein was obtained for SUPERMIX. The nature of the cDNA expression system used had no effect on the kinetic parameters of CYP2C9 as a tolbutamide methylhydroxylase, or of CYP2C19 as a S-mephenytoin hydroxylase. However insect cell expressed CYP2C19 (which includes oxidoreductase) had substantially greater activity as a tolbutamide methylhydroxylase when compared to lymphoblast expressed CYP2C19. The ratio of mean lymphoblast-determined RAF2C9 to RAF2C19 in human livers was 3.0 (range 1.6-17.9; n = 10), while this ratio for SUPERMIX was 8.6. The ratio of mean insect cell-determined RAF2C9 to RAF2C19 in human livers was 1.7 (range 0.04-16.2; n = 10), while this ratio for SUPERMIX was 7.0. Neither ratio is in agreement with the 20:1 ratio of immunoquantified levels of CYP2C9 and 2C19 in human liver microsomes reported in previous studies. SUPERMIX may contain catalytically active CYP2C9 in levels higher than those in human liver microsomes.