1. We have examined changes in caffeine and trimethadione (TMO) metabolism in vivo, agents which are used as probe drugs. In this study the total body clearance (Cl) of caffeine and TMO was low 1 week after birth (week 1), increased rapidly from week 3, peaked and then decreased gradually until reaching the level for the mature, adult dog. The elimination half-life (t1/2) of caffeine and TMO was prolonged during week 1; however, it then gradually became shorter. Gradually it became longer and reached the level for the adult dog. The apparent volume of distribution (Vd) of caffeine did not change throughout the study. However, the Vd of TMO was only high during week 1. 2. The in vitro changes in a variety of typical substrates for seven different cytochrome P450 (CYP) isozymes were examined. In this study three different patterns of metabolism can be identified: (1) activity is low immediately after birth, increases, peaks and then decreases to the adult dog level (p-nitroanisole; CYP1A1, caffeine; CYP1A2, benzphetamine; CYP3A/2B(?), aniline; 2E1 and TMO; CYP2C9/2E1/3A4); (2) activity generally increases rapidly soon after birth, continues to increase, peaks and then gradually decreases to the adult level (phenytoin; CYP2C9); and (3) activity is high (about the same level as the adult) immediately after birth, decreases and then gradually increases to the adult level (erythromycin; CYP3A4/5). 3. The results of these in vivo and in vitro studies suggest that changes in enzyme activity are due to differences in P450 isoenzymes during development.