The chemoprotective effects of cruciferous vegetables against cancer has been linked to the induction of detoxification enzymes, including the phase II enzymes, glutathione S-transferases (GST) and quinone reductase (QR). Four glucosinolate breakdown products found in Brussels sprouts and previously shown individually to affect detoxification enzymes--(1-cyano-2-hydroxy-3-butene (Crambene), indole-3-carbinol (I3C), phenylethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) and 1-isothiocyanato-3-(methylsulfinyl)-propane (IBN) were administered to male F344 rats by oesophageal intubation for 7 days both as a mixture and individually to assess the effect of these compounds on GST and QR activity in the pancreas, an organ previously shown to be affected by cruciferous diets. The doses of each compound in the mixture (50 mg Crambene/kg, 56 mg I3C/kg, 0.1 mg PEITC/kg and 38 mg IBN/kg) were chosen to represent the relative proportions of the parent glucosinolate for each compound in Brussels sprouts and shown to be below the toxic threshold for all the compounds. In rats receiving the mixture, pancreatic QR and GST activities were elevated 31- and 1.7-fold, respectively, while glutathione (GSH) was elevated threefold. On an individual basis, Crambene alone caused a 21-fold elevation of QR and 1.5-fold elevation of GST activities, while pancreatic GSH was elevated by both Crambene and PEITC 2.6- and twofold, respectively. No other significant effects of individual components were found. When the mixture was administered at 60% of the original dose, pancreatic QR and GST activities were elevated 12- and 1.4-fold, respectively, and pancreatic GSH was elevated 1.5-fold. At 20% of the original dose, pancreatic GSH was unaffected and QR and GST activities were elevated 2.7- and 1.3-fold, respectively. The results of these studies suggest that a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables may produce phase 11 enzyme induction in the pancreas, and that Crambene may be the most active component.